News events and the blogging quandary

Boston

Boston image courtesy of Dong L. Zou, Wikimedia Commons.

When a major news event happens, the blogosphere inevitably reacts in different ways. Some bloggers go to the inner self, dissecting what was going through the minds of the perpetrators, the victims, the bystanders. Others reminisce about their lives in that area and the people they know there, sharing the tales they want to tell. Still other bloggers may not say anything at all about the incident on their own blogs and continue blogging as usual, putting up a post as if nothing had happened. I think maybe this last group of bloggers wants to provide a respite from the 24/7 news coverage.

Twice now, a news event has hit when I’m getting ready to put up a blog post. The first time, it was the Newtown school shootings last December. The second time, it was the Boston Marathon bombing. We watch, we’re saddened, and we mourn the waste of lives, especially if it’s children.

I’m never quite sure of blogging etiquette in these situations. Do I say nothing at all in my blog and seem insensitive to the horror and pain of the victims? Or do I pay tribute to the victims and add my voice to the hundreds of thousands of others who are endlessly analyzing what happened and more importantly, why it happened?

In both cases, I went on blogging as normal, but I did make a brief mention of Newtown on one blog post. I had nothing substantial to add to what was already being said by newscasters, experts and fellow bloggers, and I did not want to say anything that would add, even accidentally, to the suffering of the victims and the people who know them.

I did read what other bloggers had said and commented here and there as I saw fit. I hope that was enough.

Blog readers, what are your opinions in this situation? Let’s start a discussion.

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36 Comments

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36 responses to “News events and the blogging quandary

  1. Impybat

    I just blogged as usual. Enough has been said and written about these tragedies and far more eloquently than I could ever do.

  2. Sometimes I have a delayed reaction to news events, or one so painful I cannot share–usually I try to post a blog that comforts and that is what I think you do in perhaps not mentioning the event–because we get so inundated with information we need a rest, a reprieve–I think that we should handle these things in whatever way we can–

  3. I was local to both events you mentioned. I couldn’t not say something about them. Places I’ve lived, visited and worked. But others, further away, I generally let those more directly affected put it out there. There’s no formula that works in all scenarios. If you have something you think it relevant, say it. If not, let it be. I think you can “feel” what’s right, at least most of the time.

  4. When 9/11 happened I was one of the school librarians and we decided to keep the TV running so staff and students could come in and check updates through the day. As a result I felt drenched in the horror and sadness of this monstrous event. At one point I walked over and turned it off. Endless repetition wasn’t helping, but harming by the end of the day.

    As a result I step back and now grieve privately, but it’s not business as usual. I don’t see how adding one more voice adds anything at all. I do add my private prayers.

  5. Mine is a travel blog and a bit frivolous. I think it would be inappropriate for me to comment on these horrible events. I watch with horror on the news and speak with my friends about these things, but not on my blog. I also find it uncomfortable when bloggers refer to god in these events and avoid those blogs altogether.

  6. Life is such a long continuum that there’s not always the need to respond right away.
    …especially for those among us who take longer to sort out the facts, the feelings and the implications.

  7. Reading others’ comments, the general thought is to blog along as usual. This is what I do for all the reasons already stated. We live in an era where TV infects all of us with PTSD and a respite from the horror is truly a service.

  8. I’ve been pondering this same question. I did a special post for Newtown, but blogged as usual after Boston. (Although I’m planning a post to go up in another week or so, after the dust settles.) To blog as usual can feel insensitive, but to do a special post can feel redundant, trite, or even insensitive in a different way. I just try to go with what feels most appropriate at the time, and if I want to ruminate further on an event, I do it in my private journal. This is a question for which there’s no easy answer.

    • True. It seems to come down to our own judgment of what is good and bad. And maybe where we live plays a factor as well. Bloggers living close to the news event may have certain opinions on it, colored by their own personal experience, while someone who lives far away or even in another country may view it differently.

  9. I’ve given this a lot of thought–maybe too much thought. Acts of violence happen every day around the world. Only some get our (media, bloggers’) attention. Which ones and why? If I truly wanted to be respectful to all victims of violence, I would have to post about domestic violence (spousal, child, sibling, and elder abuse), bullying (in person and over the internet), rape, all the acts of war happening around the world. See what I mean?

    Flags around me have been flying at half-mast. Why don’t they fly at half-mast every day? People are maiming and killing people somewhere right now…Who is blogging (or wondering if they should blog) about that?

  10. Servetus

    FWIW: A segment of the Armitage fan community went through this with “Fanstravaganza 2,” a Richard Armitage fan event — it was one day underway and the tsunami hit Japan. We wrote a text that we hope accommodated both a recognition of the event and the fact that the event had been scheduled for weeks and was going to continue. It was probably easier in that most of us were not in Japan. My takeaway from that was that no matter what you do, some people will disagree. Most people liked or accepted or ignored our response, but there was one person, iirc, who was particularly angry that we didn’t call off the entire event.

    As for my own blog — I comment (as suggested above) if I feel moved or have something to say that I think isn’t being said elsewhere — but at the same time I explicitly say I try to keep politics off my blog, so a lot of things that I comment on elsewhere (my personal FB) don’t make it there anyway, although I have a vent for my reactions to them.

    • I can understand that you didn’t want to call off the entire event, but you did pay tribute to the Japan disaster. So I think you did your best to accommodate both sides.

      It’s hard to tell what’s going to irk people sometimes. It’s the price we bloggers pay for airing our thoughts in a public forum.

  11. travelrat

    A difficult one; possibly each case ought to be judged by its own merits. Generally, I only make mention if it’s somewhere I’ve blogged about recently. However, I count at least four occasions where something has happened between my visit and posting about it. See https://travelrat.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/queensland-floods/ … some of the comments are enlightening, too.

  12. What to write a post about is definitely a major quandary when something major is in the news. Do we take advantage of a big event to try and drive traffic to our blogs? It is hard to let some events pass without saying something about them.

    The tagline for my blog is:
    Braman’s Wanderings · Around the World, or just in my thoughts.

    My daily posts are usually inspired by what I am currently thinking about, and when there is a major event it often consumes my thought process. I sometimes have to write about where my thoughts wander in response to an event.

    In the case of the past week, my thoughts wandered to personal connections to Boston and Watertown. In this case ancestors from the Colonial period. I tried to focus on the past, but also make a small connection to the present.

  13. As someone fairly local (I live to the north of Boston), and, after the events of 9/11, I heard the bombing and then made sure I rarely turned the TV on afterwards. I had friends on Facebook “reporting in” and that was all the information I needed at that time. I blogged as usual and didn’t mention anything.

    During 9/11, I had a sort of “blog” which was actually a web site I added pages to as I completed parts of the project it was about (a quilt) sometimes weekly, sometimes more often than that. I did “dedicate” one block’s description/thoughts to my reactions to the day and the people, the Towers, etc., although I didn’t call it a dedication…to me it was just a poem I thought up while I was working on that block.

    I think some things are too big and too close, that some times you need to recognize that someone said it earlier and better and it’s just best to leave it alone. In terms of Boston, that’s what I decided was true for me, so I didn’t add anything.

  14. Very thought provoking post and something I think about at times like this. I write a humor blog (at least mostly) so I sometimes feel that anything I do is awkward. Do people really want to read funny at a time like that? There are so many bloggers who are much better than I am at composing touching poems or expressing sorrow. Unless I can come up with a different angle (and I haven’t been successful to date) I end up blogging as usual.

  15. I think it can depend on the subject matter — blogging as usual with a subject matter or topic that may seem insensitive in light of a recent tragedy may want to be reconsidered, but equally offensive to me are the bloggers who seem to insincerely or opportunistically rush to publish something concerning the tragedy, overreaching in their attempt to tie in to the tragedy. It is a fine line, and perhaps we just need to let our heart and intuition be our guide, as misguided as that sometimes can be. Often, there is no right or wrong answer.

  16. Great post Eagle! I think it’s really up to the person, everyone’s blog is their chance to share with the world what they choose as way to contribute their life’s experiences, likes, loves and even things they hate with others. I know a blogger that only blogs on current events and that’s great it creates a space for others to discuss and interact on the issues of the day, bringing a wider perspective of those issues to an audience larger than a circle of friends, neighbors, or for that matter across borders. But if your purpose in blogging isn’t cover those types of issues then I’d have to say blog away with you want. People need a few minutes of escape that reading a blog can provide especially when it focuses on things they’re interested in. There is plenty of information available on events of the day to allow for blogging and bloggers to continue what they do. That said, if an issue or event is something that you feel the need to blog about, then by all means blog away. I do understand though your confusion. I do post from time to time on current events but usually after I’ve had time to analyze what happened to the best of my ability to do so for myself, and make an informed statement as to what my position actually is…

  17. Val

    I’ve been over this subject more times than I care to remember. I’ve been blogging on and off, and on different platforms, since 2004, so all sorts of events, whether natural or perpetrated by humankind, have occurred in that time, including Tsunamis, many earthquakes, 9/11, and more. A couple of times in the past, I upset a lot of people criticising those who just carried on with their usual posts without acknowledging it, but I know better now. People have a multitude of reasons not to, including (one mustn’t forget) that their own family and friends might have been involved as victims.

    What I do now is, I either think about it for a while and then acknowledge it in a post that I try to write in a balanced and careful way – Forget Me Not, which I wrote about and some time after Sandy Hook, was one of those – or else I just let one or more days around the start of the event go by without posting at all. I think that silence is often the best tribute.

    And this suddenness of events is one of the reasons I don’t much like doing scheduled posts: they are too artificial and don’t keep track of anything that’s going on outside ourselves. (That said, I do still occasionally schedule, it depends.)

    I often wonder how people would react if there were a nuclear attack and those on the periphery of it were still able to use their computers and internet – would we blog or would we try instead to help any survivors? I have no idea, but I would hope the latter.

  18. I’m not sure there is one singular way we need to respond. Perhaps we need simply to follow our own inner compass about what to do. Everyone will need to handle it differently, based on what feels right. It does feel challenging to be posting something–say–funny, that you’ve just written. Don’t think there are any easy answers, just trying to feel what feels the most appropriate for us. Good conversation here, Editor.

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