In a comment on my post Tee Ball, James remarked rhetorically, "I guess I shouldn't be expecting a review of 5e from you anytime soon?" That is correct. I won't be writing a review about any edition, or a review about any adventure module, or campaign setting, or any RPG product of any kind. Which should be fine.
Yesterday and today, Dyson's Dodecahedron wrote a post about the Proving Grounds of the Mad Ogre Lord; From the Sorcerer's Skull wrote about The Aberration; Barking Alien wrote for a second time about his idea for a campaign based on the Incredibles; Frugal GM wrote about Beyond Skyrim Bruma; Inkwell Ideas wrote another post about 5e Creature Decks; Tenkars Tavern wrote about the White Ship Campaign Kickstarter; Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool wrote a critique of Noah's Ark; Brighton Roleplayers wrote about 4th Edition; Dungeon Fantastic wrote about the Status of the Ken Shabby Memorial; and No School Like the Old School said a few words on the Lovecraft E-Zine Interview of Joe Salvador. There's more. Took me a few minutes to find these. And this is a typical two day period in the blogosphere.
We ~ and this describes some of us more than others ~ spend our time writing about what other people make, what other people say, what other people do and what money other people want to raise. It is the flesh, blood and bone of the RPG blogger publishing industry [we can call it that now, more than half of us are sorta doin' it for coin]. It flies because readers will read it. That's all it takes for journalism to fly: readers.
|Coffee and journalism have an immortal bond;|
to keep writing, we keep drinking ~ while the readers
drink to keep reading
In terms of the internet, it is called mainstreaming. Off the internet, mainstreaming is a perfectly acceptable practice of making things acceptable to the mainstream population. As a slang term, however, it is "the act of a vampire trying to fit in with human society, such as drinking synthetic blood while being able to be around the human population." [urbandictionary.com]
To put it another way, blogs want the cachet of appearing to be journalists, by pretending to write reviews or call outs of things in the RPG culture. Unfortunately, it really isn't journalism. Tenkar's Kickstarter post, linked above, is barely a 30-second radio spot, with Tenkar acting in the role of some actor from a recent high-rated sitcom pitching a coffee bean brand. Barking Alien's ideas for an Incredibles Campaign is hardly more than a series of spoilers feasting off the familiarity his audience is bound to have with a very popular franchise. Joe Salvador's name appearing on NSLTOS is a cocktail party name drop from someone pretending to have met the man once at a coin laundry.
That's not meant to be mean. I only want to stress that these "journalists" are phoning it in.
Journalism is research. It is explaining something to an audience who does not recognize the name or the product being dropped, who deserve to be informed. It is relying on details: what is the product, what is it meant to achieve, how is it applies, how does it matter to the reader and why should we care. Most of these questions are simply passed over, et al, you know who Salvador is because you're a gamer, you care because you're a gamer, you know what the product is for because you're a gamer, it matters because you're a gamer and so on and so forth. Once the crutch, "Because my readers are gamers" becomes the final word, the requirement to write an explanatory, in-depth, perspective-giving examination of the product, event or person is easily dumped in the trash bin. The reader already knows all that. Why bother?
I don't expect to change the status quo. Most bloggers have nothing else of importance or interest to write about, are basically fan-boys gushing over material that releases dopamine or seratonin for themselves and their readers, and are not legitimate writers beyond the work they were expected to produce in high school for English credit. The blog is a low bar and it's fun to write, and see visitors, and get comments, and pitch for regular readers to donate a little here and there. It is great to be liked, and to do something we're liked for. Blogging offers a sense of proprietary wealth, of ownership, of purposeful self-possession of one's thoughts and feelings. It doesn't require much skill to get the benefit of what the platform mostly offers for most people.
However, I urge those who want to excel to do a little more research than you're doing. To think a little more about what you're writing than you have. To write a little more about the subject with each post. And thereby, to make each post more valuable to the reader. This will be, I promise, to your benefit.
The reader is a very bored entity, wandering the internet like a prospector, looking for something that will glint among the rocks. And while wandering, the prospector will turn over a lot of rocks just to view what's there. Most "views" are nothing more. Just a bored reader turning over your rock, only to drop it and move onto the next rock. To the reader, it's a disappointment. Is that really the journalism you want to provide? A means to disappointment?
Come on. Work a little more. Be a little more engaged. Offer more visuals. Draw them yourself if need be. Move ahead of the hundreds of blogs that can't be bothered. Getting ahead of the competition isn't as hard as you think.
Journalism has always been a cutthroat business. The losers have always been those without hustle.