The child they bear is understanding. That's the point of "A Radioactive Killer: Helping Readers Understand," which started as a blog item this morning, but migrated later today into my Poynter column space, "Chip on my Shoulder."
The column focuses on the literary tools that make good explanatory journalism possible.
But there's a tangent, relating to its relocation, that I think says something valuable, to me at least, about blogging. Had I read Dan Vergano's piece in USA TODAY that answered many of my questions about the poisoning of a Russian spy, and thought, "This could be a column," there's a good chance I would have come to a full stop. I had other work and writing to do today, and a column wasn't part of it. But a blog, now that's a different breed. A link here, a comment there, hunt up a visual, run spell-check, and publish. Five minutes, maybe ten, then move on.
Instead, as so often happens, reading and thinking start an associative spin in my brain, taking me down hyperlinked paths that I want to share with others. Time seems to stop, or my awareness of its passage, fades away in the flow state I have entered. More research, composing, fiddling, posting, revision, reposting. The time spent and length of the item both grow. Now I've spent an hour, even 90 minutes. And what seemed like a cyber-scrap now felt more substantial, not a full-course meal, maybe more like the Subway club sandwich I had for lunch--a satisfying and health stack of protein, grains and veggies.
In the end, I realize, once again, that it's all about the value of lowering one's standards, at first, and then, finding out when it's over, that you've raised the bar fairly high. For my readers' sake, I hope l made the vault.