The new format

It looks like a blog but still feels like a column from this end. You can call it whatever you want.


King Kaufman
May 2, 2008 10:15PM (UTC)

Astute readers -- and that's all we have around here -- will have noticed by now that the ol' column has a new look. It can't be lost on the most astute of you -- that's you. Yes, you -- that the column has taken on a blog-like format one day after hammering Buzz Bissinger for his intelligence-free attack on blogs.

It would be funny if we made the change just to thumb our noses at Buzz, but it's been in the works for several months. The idea at Salon, as I understand it, not that anybody ever tells me anything, like when there are cookies in the kitchen, is to have the various features and columns appear under a similar design.

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The design of the moment is the three-column blog you now hold on your screen. My cartoony mug has moved from right to left -- here I am, up here! There are favorite links to the right, recent posts and video to the left and, my favorite thing -- and I just can't emphasize enough how much I love this -- I now get a pull quote.

Don't tell Salon, but I'd have written this column for free for the last six years if they'd have given me a pull quote to play with. I plan to get all postmodern with it, maybe stick the punch line of a nonexistent joke in there one day.

So: What's it mean. Is this column now a blog?

Sure, if you like. I still plan to call it a column. I get that there's always some medium-is-message aspect to the method of delivery, but I don't think my job is changing because of the way the words are laid out on the screen.

There are obvious and some not-so-obvious differences between writing for a newspaper, which I cut my teeth doing, and writing online, which I've been doing for a dozen years now, but the guts of it are the same. You got your words, your punctuation, your sentences and paragraphs.

Not that I pay attention to paragraphs.

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And so it is with a column vs. a blog. Publishing whenever I want, several times a day, long posts and short, as opposed to one column each night, will create opportunities and impose limits in various ways, I'm sure. But the guts of the thing will be the same. King Kaufman, and sports, and daily.

For various technical and deadline-related reasons, the new format will, I think, make it easier for me to offer up a better product. It's going to come in very handy when the Olympics come around, for example, because this format is much better suited, from both my side and yours, to frequent updates.

I've resisted the word "blog" as we've planned this change, and frankly it's because of the backward attitude Bissinger so eloquently spewed forth on HBO the other night. He's not alone. There is still an unfortunately pervasive view abroad that blogger equals loser in mother's basement, as opposed to professional writer with training and experience and editorial oversight.

It's as silly as it is pervasive. Putting aside that my mother doesn't even have a basement, Rob Neyer and Alex Belth and J.C. Bradbury and Jeff Angus, just to name four off the top of my head, are all bloggers. They're also book authors, and they're really smart and really good.

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I could now list a whole bunch of columnists who I think are dumber than plankton. Worse writers too. But I'm sure you have your own list.

Joe Posnanski -- ooh, I should have had a transition sentence there -- is both a columnist for the Kansas City star and a blogger on his own time. I like his column, which is centered on K.C. teams, but I'd sooner miss lunch than one of his blog posts.

It's just a format. We noted yesterday that William Shakespeare's stuff translated just fine to the Web. It's still Shakespeare, even with hyperlinks.

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And yes, I just compared myself to Shakespeare. He has me on the writing thing, but I'd destroy him in a parallel parking contest.

That attitude will go away. I'm old enough to remember when some people thought writing on a computer, as opposed to a typewriter, was somehow illegitimate. But until it does I'm a little sensitive about being called a blogger. So let me be fogyish and keep calling this thing a column. But you can call it anything you want.

Just please call me when there are cookies in the kitchen.

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And since no change to a daily habit is ever all that popular, I'm sure you'll all have plenty to say about it in the comments. Fire away.


King Kaufman

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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