After last night’s 6:00 o’clock news, I headed to Southern Connecticut State University. Jerry Dunklee, a journalism professor at Southern who I knew as a radio talk show host when I first came here, invited me to join a panel on blogging.
The class was already underway when I walked in the room. I was glad to see little has changed. The students avoided sitting close to the front.
Sitting behind a table, facing the group, were Denis Horgan and Andy Thibauld. These guys are much better examples of what bloggers are all about than the navel gazing I usually post.
Both these guys are capital “J” journalists with backgrounds at traditional media outlets. Denis went though a messy divorce at the Hartford Courant, after editor Brian Toolan told him to stop blogging. I’m not sure of all the steps, but the Courant no longer has Horgan… we do.
As with my blog, though in a much more beautiful, writerly way, Denis choronicles his own life and experiences. A really good writer can make the mundane meaningful.
If that came off as a left handed compliment, it wasn’t my intention.
Denis is also author of “Flotsam: A Life in Debris,” reviewed quite favorably in the… wait for it… Hartford Courant. You can’t make this stuff up!
Andy Thibauld is also a print journalist gone web. This description probably doesn’t do it justice, but his site is an outlet for Andy’s investigative reporting.
Staunchly liberal (as is Horgan), Andy is answering a calling, more than doing a job. The fact that he’s doing this kind of expository reporting in a medium where there’s little chance for financial payoff means it’s passion driven.
Stereotypically, both men seem directly out of central casting for who they are. That Denis is an Irishman from Boston is totally obvious before he even speaks! Andy wears the same rumpled trench coat nearly every other investigative reporter wears.
There’s got to be a warehouse where these are given out to people who whisper, “I know this pol on the take.”
Both these guys are passionate about what they do. Neither seems to have a free will choice to stop. It’s just too deeply ingrained in their DNA.
I’m not sure how either puts food on the table. There’s no money in blogging… certainly in this kind of blogging. People write for newspapers because they need to write and they need to eat. Blogging only fills half the equation.
I can’t be sure the students got what we were talking about. Can you understand what drives these two guys before being driven yourself? Don’t you first need to understand what it’s like pounding your head against the wall for a boss who judges your work by quantity alone?
The students seemed attentive and asked good questions. It’s just, I’ve come to the conclusion experience cannot be taught.
It’s a shame the traditional media (print and electronic) are under such brutal financial pressure. Guys like these, to whom principle is king, are amazing role models for college students. I’m not sure if I belonged on the same panel.
There are never enough bright people with principles.