I blog, therefore I am
By Walter Brooks
Two generations ago most communities had a decent newspaper which always had well-informed "insiders" writing from each town in their circulation area.
The Cape Codder, as an example, covered six towns back then, and local "Town Correspondents" like Tom Kane in Truro, Peggy Campbell in Eastham and Stewart Brooks in Orleans who wrote each week about the things going on in their towns about which residents needed or wanted to know.
Kane was called "Town Father", which was a mid-20th century blog name if ever there was one. Old Stewart Brooks was the Latin teacher at the Orleans High School and wrote about as literate a column as anyone ever read.
First Page came Second
I forget who wrote the other columns, by I do know that the readers in each of the six towns turned to and read the local stuff even before they read the front pages. While not a Town Correspondent, I must also mention Herb Fuller of Orleans who wrote a pretty unique column for The Codder right up until the day he died .
His column "predicted" last week's weather in case any readers forgot what last Monday's weather was like.
Day in, day out, for decades, Herb kept close track of the meteorological info and wrote about it every Thursday - Last week's weather.
Yep, the pace of life was a tad slower back then.
But gradually over the years, starting around 1970, America changed the way it worked, played and read newspapers, and one by one these "insiders" died or left but were not replaced.
They couldn't be replaced because the country had changed. Media mergers were beginning and more and more folks had two jobs with little time left to be an "insider" about their town.
The Cape Codder passed through several ownerships, the last two being large media companies, and like the rest of the newspaper business lost that ineffable, local touch which was American Journalism circa 1950.
In deference to The Cape Codder of today, the hard-working young journalists who work there now are working harder and writing more stories than the much larger staff ever did a couple decades ago, and their editors would have to be superhuman to find the kind of person to be correspondents who don't exist anymore.
A dozen years ago there were twenty plus weeklies on the Cape while today there are eleven left, see the list here which also has the other nearby weeklies. And the rumor mills are churning to suggest there is another massive media shake-up pending with off-Cape EnterpriseMediaNews calling around to most Cape publishers asking if their weeklies are for sale.
As if this sea change wasn't enough, the national media and industry trade journals last month reported a serious and increasing drop-off of newspaper circulation nationwide and crediting the Internet with picking up those readers.
It isn't a pleasant time to be a newspaper person on Cape Cod or elsewhere.
Into this seeming desert of local writing comes the blog
There are already millions of blogs, and most are for a few friends to read, but there are also a new crew of Tom Kanes, Stewart Brooks and Betty Campbells writing blogs, and they are a good as anything those old timers ever wrote, and for the same reasons.
No town correspondent of yesterday or blogger of today is doing it for the money because there isn't any. They do it for the same reason Sir. Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest, "because it's there," and because as writers they must write. A few write exceedingly well.
If you don't believe me, start at the top and read the dozen local blogs on this page, and then if you'd like to see the whole gamut of cape bloggers, check the 45 linked to this page of our directory.
What IS a blog? (Politicians - please don't read this part)
The term blog came from the phrase "Web Log". Blogs are basically a personal journal that is available on the Web or Internet just like any other web site. It's a trend which makes operating a web site possible for even the technically challenged.
The activity of updating a blog is called blogging and someone who keeps a blog is a blogger. Blogs are typically updated daily or at least often using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog/web site. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions at the top.
Since politicians are traditionally a decade behind any technological advance, they are the last to use blogs, thankfully. Of course the smarter ones do, like Arianna Huffington whose blog (click here) is much like capecodtoday.com in that it "aggregates" a small world of collected thoughts and opinions.