A few days ago I received a message from someone at the state capital's only daily newspaper. The Sacramento Bee publishes a regional blog roundup in the Forum section of its Sunday edition. Gary Reed wanted me to know that he was considering my post on Fragile heterosexuality for inclusion in the June 1 roundup. Fine by me.
I picked up a copy of the Bee this morning and discovered that, sure enough, my blog post was there in print form. Therefore, of course, my post also exists in cyberspace, because the Bee has an on-line edition. I couldn't resist: I went to check out the on-line version of the print version of my original on-line blog post.
You still with me?
I love print media. I read voraciously, dispatching dozens of books every year (although it used to be hundreds back when I was younger and the books I read were thinner). I read lots of newspapers, too, although my students seem not to have heard of such things (and those newspapers keep getting thinner as electronic media nibble away at their circulation base).
However, I'm not sure print is the right medium for blog posts. A blog post is rather denatured after translation into hardcopy. For example, readers of the Bee will see a parenthetical remark near the beginning of my article:
(God, you see, hates immorality except in those instances where he expressly condones it.)What is that all about? In print form it just lies there. However, the original version here on my blog has links to each of the last three words in the sentence. The blog reader who clicks on “expressly” will see the text of Exodus 21:2-7, wherein God offers instructions on managing slaves and notes that the offspring of a slave belong to the master. I linked “condones” to 1 Samuel 15:3, where God explicitly instructs Israel to commit genocide against the Amalekites, killing all men, women, children, and animals. Finally, “it” links to Numbers 31:15-18, wherein Moses passes along God's instructions to the Israelites to save for themselves the virgins of Midian. The first two cases clearly condone slavery and genocide, while the third smacks of rape.
All that is lost in the translation to print.
At the end of my original post I inserted a hilarious Goodie Bag video. Here's my original concluding paragraph:
The preservation of humanity demands that vigorous steps be taken to protect fragile heterosexuality. One potential remedy is the wide dissemination of training videos, such as this timely offering from Goodie Bag, titled Protecting and Maintaining Your Heterosexual House of Cards. It's aimed at young men because their straightness is apparently the most easily threatened. Watch and learn!Now compare that to the Bee's print version:
The preservation of humanity demands that vigorous steps be taken to protect fragile heterosexuality. One potential remedy is the wide dissemination of training videos, … like one aimed at young men because their straightness is apparently the most easily threatened. Watch and learn!Watch what? There's no embedded video. No link, of course, but no title either. No printed-out URL. Dead end.
We writers tend to kick and moan when editors lay their rough hands on our copy, however gentle the changes may be, but I do think I am making a legitimate point here. My blog post made the transition to print media only at the cost of a significant portion of its impact.
By the way, the on-line version of the print version of my on-line original did not have any of the links restored. Although I admit it was nice to see my blog post appear in the Sacramento Bee, I regret that the on-line edition of the newspaper did nothing to take advantage of the fact that it was possible to restore the links that were necessarily cut from the print version. The on-line edition of the Sacramento Bee is nothing more, in many respects, than an image of the print edition.
I wonder when they will wake up about that.