The Secret of Journo-Blogs: We Don't Like Pitching

Ana Marie Cox, the talent behind the potty-mouthed organ of truth that is Wonkette, said this in a chat at the Washington Post today:

[Question] Denver, Colo.: Blogging seems to be a good fit to your personality and subject, do you ever long for more traditional journalism? Ana Marie Cox: Yes, I do. But I really hate pitching stories. . . That's why I started a blog, actually. Because I wanted to just write stuff without having to prove to an editor it was a good idea. If the only thing I get out of Wonkette is the ability to get editors to assign me stories without my having to _sell_ the pitch, I will be happy.

I don't know that I could ever put it so well, but she pinned the tail on the donkey (or elephant). Pitching is the worst aspect of being a freelance writer. Even with editors who know you and know your work, you're auditioning with every story. I like being a columnist, because it gives me the freedom to have the scope and planning to write about issues and return to them. But pure freelance work means justifying yourself -- in some cases, justifying why a product or service or news event is worth appearing in print or online. That, in turn, can make you too committed to the story, and not able to step back when it doesn't pan out. For my Wi-Fi blog, I'm more of a pitch-less writer than an editor, and it's worked out well so far. The audience has grown month over month, with substantial increases in daily page views and visitors since last fall, and it's cited just in passing as an authoritative source (as it was in today's New York Times). I'm not paid, as Ana Marie Cox is, but I am producing revenue (not precisely the same as making money). Cox later makes this observation:

When engaging in what I call "blogger triumphalism," blog proponents tend to forget that almost all the really successful/popular blogs are run by people who were already writing for a living, if not actual journalists -- either professors or journalists, basically. I'd include myself in this group. I've been v. lucky that Wonkette has done so well, but I was honing my ability to for years prior to doing this.