Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Taking Advice Or Not For What It's Worth

One of the comments from yesterday’s post about the Surry Diner was from BobLee, of BobLeeSays, who sort of does this—writing a periodical web commentary—for a living. BobLee, hopefully and obviously not his real name, sort of does a lot of things (click on the link and learn more), and giving advice is just one of them. Here’s what he said:

Jim: I'm a 1,000 or so "commentaries" ahead of you so take my advice for what it's worth. These "Surry Diner" columns will always be the most rewarding both as a writer and a reader. Yes, you (we) have to fight battles over Alumni Offices, ADs and assorted socio-cultural aggravations. But in the end .... reminding readers of "Surry Diners" may be your best service to mankind.

He makes a good point as he usually does (don't just as me, ask him), and, in a way, I accept his counsel. Yesterday's story about the Surry Diner is a more enjoyable way to express myself, but just as newspapers get more readership from outlandish stories about outlandish actions (or inactions) from outlandish people, especially outlandish politicians and/or appointed leaders, my writings do as well. The main difference is that while BobLee and The News & Observer and WRAL.Com and other websites and media outlets are in it for the money, I’m in this for the joy of writing.

I liken what I do and what BobLee does and what others do to what MSNBC’s Morning Joe show does. It’s not hard news; it’s entertaining and opinionated. It’s more fun to watch than our local news shows with murder and scandal and school board crap; it’s more informative than the network broadcasts at the same time. 6 a.m. until 9: a.m. Tune in good stuff and tune out the traffic reports that mean nothing unless you're in your vehicle. The New York Times had a nice story about that show in its May 7th edition. It’s available at this link: Joe and Mika, the Odd Couple of Morning TV. It’s been and will continue to be a hit with viewers.

But, I enjoy watching the “hit” counter as well, to see how many people are clicking the link to Actions and Reactions II to read what I write. Interestingly enough, it was one little paragraph about the NC State University sports information department that resulted in the most views in a day here. That’s because a writer from a website with a larger audience used that one paragraph and suggested to his readership a full read of what I write was in order.

When I first wrote about the misfortune of my friend Lennie Barton who was fired without cause from his position as Executive Director of the NCSU Alumni Association, my website (then at EasyJournal.Com) took off. That’s because my primary readership, a small group of friends who also considered Barton’s fate a terrible injustice, sent the link to others who supplied it to others. And, that’s the way of the web.

If I just do this for fun, it really doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I enjoy writing and feel it is worth sharing. For instance, I’m working on an NCSU follow-up about how arrogant temporary Chancellor Jim Woodward was to several alumni who wrote nice emails to him asking for explanations to some of his actions, and about a recent decision by the NC State University Board of Trustees to agree to the 5% assessment on donations to help fund the effort to get donations. When that fails, maybe there will be an assessment on the assessment, all of which takes money away from the reason it was given in the first place. I write these because our local news media doesn’t think it's important to touch on these subjects. There are a lot of stories which the news media will not cover, or, if it does, will only give cursory coverage. The media blames lack of staff members and financial resources. Give me a break!

After receiving his comment, I followed up to BobLee with a “rant” (which is more of what he does on his website) suggestion. It had to do with a WRAL-TV story a little over a week ago. The story itself was very weak in reporting on what appears to be a wrong-doing in state government. If you were to watch it, you’d probably get a little angry and then laugh out loud at the content and the comments from the players involved. As Don Imus would say, you can’t make this (stuff) up. It truly is a tragic comedy.

So, I suggested to BobLee that he do a rant on the WRAL story, providing him with a link to the written word and video. (If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll share it with you.) BobLee turned me down, but gave me more food for thought on my suggestion and on another subject of interest to me and my readers:

I avoid too much local politics because much of my reader base is out-of-state. State guvmint corruption is pretty universal ...... not unlike "bloody school board meetings". If it's a MAJOR snafu like Mary Easley of course I have fun with it. FWIW .... I thought Purcell was a shoo-in .... but Randy may have other plans. After Fowler, any "out-sider" is going to have a real mountain to climb to be "accepted" by the rank/file. I'd go with Bobby just to calm down the masses for a few years.

Thanks, BobLee, for your advice on all fronts. I’ll think about it. FWIW, I’m working on another NC Winery story about one of our favorite visits and about a new publication covering the subject. And, I’m always looking for story ideas. For instance, last night, about 3:00 a.m., when I couldn’t sleep and I high-tailed it to the couch in the bonus room and started reading the Associated Press mobile website on my Blackberry, I came across an article with this headline: Minnesota city stops providing free doggie bags. For a savings of $12,000 a year, the action could cause a real stink in Edina MN.

And, give BobLee a try as well. He’s entertaining, is a good read, and offers lots of free advice to me and anyone who will listen ... or not.

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