Blog or Newspaper?

When I started this blog, it was not clear to what extent I would use it for my own original writing. But as will have been noticed, there have been quite a few posts with such writing recently (most of them in Swedish).

Blogging certainly cannot replace writing for academic journals, for instance. But I have to say that increasingly, in the case of articles that could be published in a daily newspaper, I have doubts when I consider sending them there, and when people ask why I don’t do so more often.

Newspapers undoubtedly still reach many people – but not as many as they used to. They reach many influential people – but not as many as they used to. They also certainly pay – but not as much as they used to.

Above all, there is the cheap paper, the increasingly vulgar ads, the often no less tasteless photos, the chaotic, arbitrary juxtaposition of different kinds of articles, the many typos and the poor editing. And, with the exception of the paper quality, all of this is even more crude and aggressively vulgar, as it were, in the web editions than in the paper ones.

The newspapers are simply no longer an attractive reading environment, if I may put it that way.

Indeed, although good writing can of course still be found in them, the declining general linguistic competence and the lowered stylistic standards of today’s editors, journalists, and columnists would make the newspapers relatively uninteresting even if the writing could be more tastefully packaged.

This is all of course a consequence of our continuously deteriorating general humanistic culture and educational system. And it is also a fact that the intellectual and cultural level of even the best among the big newspapers is increasingly such that they are regularly read mainly by the less discerning and comparatively less knowledgeable.

More and more, they come to belong in the same category as radio and television. Their readers are primarily found among people in older generations without higher education. And those with real, traditional higher education (not just technical training) in older generations are the ones who complain the loudest about the lowered standards.

The young and insightful find not just more adequate reporting and commentary in what is now often the only place where these things can be found: in blogs and on alternative news and other sites on the internet. If they are properly selective, they can even find formally and stylistically better writing there.

And since it is much easier to find older posts (easier even than articles in the web editions of the newspapers), the blog post is also a less ephemeral genre than the newspaper article. In comparison with texts in well-designed and well-organized blogs at least, there is, given the character and feel of today’s daily newspapers, something almost inescapably and irredeemably trashy about a newspaper article.

For these reasons, it is not unlikely that I will continue to write more frequently and regularly in this new genre of the blog post.

3 Responses to “Blog or Newspaper?”


  1. 1 svensson March 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Having had works published im physical form (then mostly in magazines or even books) certainly has a good feel about it, that “coonskins on the wall”-quality that you can impress friends with, that quality of having carried home a trophy.

    But then, as was your topic, newspaper publication, it is verily a bit trashy and irrelevant. A cut-out-and-pasted-into-a-scrapbook paper article has low “coonskin” quality, if you follow me.

    To publish things on your own blog almost equals being published in an electronic magazine. You can link to the article, it’s there “for ever”. It might not be read by that many people but it feeds your creativity, enabling you to leave the work in question behind you and boldly proceed to new vistas and new topics!

    • 2 Jan Olof Bengtsson March 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Yes. Blogs are a very important development, it seems to me. Blog posts should perhaps really be considered a new genre of literature (although it is of course often quite possible, with only minor adjustments, to publish them subsequently in books which will be pretty much like any collection of articles or essays – I have suggested others do this with their blog posts, and others have suggested I do it with mine). I’m in fact surprised how many I’ve written here recently. As I explain on the About page, it wasn’t clear to me at all when I started the blog that I would use it for so much original writing. I’ve even been told by a person of – as far as I have been able to see – generally sound judgement that I reveal a “childish fascination” for blogging, and really ought to publish more newspaper articles instead…

  2. 3 svensson March 31, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Yes, blogging is a new genre. The whole field of publishing is going through enormous changes. Private publishing, e-books, blogs; it’s hard to see the consequences yet.

    I’ve encountered the same feeling as you with my own blogging. It’s grown beyond the original plans. In short, it feeds your creativity.


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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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