More on Bloggerheads

Via sgblognews, I see that John Scheideman has a (for the most part) thoroughly reasonable post about the bloggers summit. He wasn’t invited and doesn’t really care – admirable honesty. His post brings up an interesting point that Scheideman doesn’t really pursue but which is imbedded in his argument: what is the role of bloggers in gospel music? I think David Bruce Murray’s take on what his blog, musicscribe, is about, is a decent outline of the function of sg blogs in general.

I should also point out that one major difference between Musicscribe and pure news reporting is that we’re more about opinions. Daniel Britt or I may allude to a news story or even break news on rare occasions, but it’s usually so we can add our own opinion to what has transpired. I don’t lose any sleep if we get scooped, because reporting the news isn’t really our first concern.

I might say “opinions and analysis” or “opinions and criticism,” but no matter. Like DBM, I don’t see myself as a news source. Unlike musicscribe, I’ll occasionally post this or item of newsworthy interest, but that’s generally only when I think it probably won’t get reported elsewhere or because I know sg news sources are just waiting on a press release and that kind of laziness bugs me.

My sources and methods aren’t perfect. Certainly not as perfect as if I just sat around waiting to be told by newsmakers when and what to report and how to report it, as do sogospelnews, and, despite some improvements, the Singing News. I try to say so when I flub it (looks like I got the Lane Rainwater thing wrong, btw) without hiding behind self-serving platitudes about Christian journalism. Obviously, though, what I do hacks off a lot of people, such as the Unthanks at sogospelnews (as most of you know, they banned me a long time ago). For critics of this sort, I’m a tabloid bottom feeder (”the National Inquirer” of sg), relishing the take-down for its own sake and playing up the negative for the sake of cheap hits and beefed up stats and raw infamy.

But this notion that AVFL is the Inquirer of sg says next to nothing about what actually goes on here and a lot more about the lack of honest criticism and the absence of any real models for open exchange of ideas in southern gospel.

For his part Scheideman seems to be happy writing as a fairly disengaged observer and fan of gospel music. And that’s fine. Really. To each his own. I certainly didn’t start out with the goal or ambition of being some powerbroker or other kind of player in gospel music. Judging by my traffic (which is at an all time high) and the comments and email I get, I’ve got a reliable and growing readership mostly within (and to a much lesser degree outside of) southern gospel. I won’t lie and say I’m not gratified by the response to what goes on here. But does it amount to “influence” or “expertise” about southern gospel as an art form or an industry? Hardly. Are blogs (and specifically the rise of AVFL) responsible for introducting tabloid sensationalism into a previously unsullied landscape of holiness and Christian fellowship? Please.

Bloggers like me and David Bruce Murray and others are saying things that have occurred to most intelligent, attentive, and thoughtful people for ages now. The only difference is, we say them publicly.

So like the idea of my sensational tabloid ways, this idea of blogs’ undue “influence” in sg and the nefarious blogospheric agenda (based, if I understand it correctly, on one day-long chat at Crossroads) says more about gospel music’s allergic reaction to healthy debate than about blogs themselves. Remember, blogs have been around and become an accepted part of ordinary life for years now in … well, basically the rest of the world. This particular “debate” was really over before it ever started.

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  1. John wrote:

    Thanks, Doug, for the mention in your blog. I AM perfectly happy being a “disengaged observer and fan of gospel music”.

    And in the past I have tried to explain what I feel the purpose of my blog is, if not having attempted to try to define what a blogger’s place is in the world of gospel music.

    For the latter is up to the individual blogger to determine his or her role in the universe of gospel music. It would be presumptuous of me to try to set standards for my fellow bloggers, for it not only is not my place to do so, but outside the purview of what I feel my blog is to be.

    But I do appreciate the mention. Thanks.

    Oh, BTW, that surname is “Scheideman”, not “Schneideman”.

    Thanks again.

  2. Daniel J. Mount wrote:

    Actually, I do perceive myself as somewhat of a news source. That might explain a few things about what I choose to cover.

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