Local Bloggers Richard Engel and Dave Copeland Discuss Local Blogging over Separate Instant Messenger Clients
Richard Engel and Dave Copeland
Richard Engel (bagelface 13) and Dave Copeland (copah) are Pittsburghers with Web logs, which, according to Marketingterms.com is A frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links. Richard, a full-time dad and part-time freelancer, and Dave, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, have been blogging locally for quite some time. Read them at pair.com/engelr and davecopeland.com, respectively.
Recently, The New Yinzer got Dave and Richard to chat on AOLs IM network about weblogs, focusing, among other things, on those in Pittsburgh and its surrounds.
bagelface13: Dave how are ya?
copah: Good. You?
bagelface13: Swell. Congrats on the column.
copah: Thanks. Just wish they could get it online with some consistency.
bagelface13: I'm with you on that. Thanks for accepting this offer from The New Yinzer
copah: What the hell. Free publicity.
bagelface13: Have you read it much?
copah: Yeah, here and there. I tend to forget to check in with them as much as I should.
bagelface13: I think this should be pretty painless. My IM client has a nice log of the chat. I'm using Trillian.
copah: Well, that's good because I haven't really graduated past AOL. So I deleted your email. What exactly are we supposed to discuss?
copah: That's a wide open topic.
bagelface13: Link style vs personal style. Or whatever else we like
bagelface13: You seem to think blogs can change the media.
copah: I think they HAVE changed media. Not dramtically yet but they're getting there.
bagelface13: What's a clear example of how that's happened?
copah: Well, no self-respecting reporter would admit it, but I troll them daily looking for story ideas (I think you'll see a profile on the mortuary school sometime soon, courtesy of your blog). That's a subtle change. But I also think they're dictating events, i.e. the comments made at Strom Thurmond's birthday party, etc.
bagelface13: I read daily newspaper stories much more than ever before, thanks to links from blogs. I wouldn't really otherwise read anything but the P-G and Trib (online only of course). That may be laziness, but I like it. If someone else is going to comb the NYTimes for me, all the better.
copah: I know a few self-respecting members of Pittsburgh's power class who read my blog to see what they've missed. They know I think like them so they figure I've filtered the news. And, by default, I have to read both papers. It is nice, and I like the spin individual bloggers put on it. Even if I don't agree with their views.
bagelface13: I think the Strom Thurmond thing is a big part of the change, and really the best part of the diary-style blogs. Because those bloggers are writing, "Hey I heard this," or "I'm sitting here at this conference and get what this guy is saying." Amateur reportage can be powerful for the reader and blogger.
copah: True. And more recently, I think bloggers pushed the Jayson-Blair-as-affirmative-action-gone-wrong thing harder and faster than mainstream media. Again, I don't necessarily agree with that view, but it's nice to see it discussed.
bagelface13: Do you think more people are being exposed to science and academic findings through blogs?
copah: I think so. Wired mag kind of drives a lot of that stuff into the mainstream. The one thing I have noticed is a lack of business news blogs. The medium seems perfect for that type of news, yet there doesn't seem to be many good ones out there.
bagelface13: It's too bad that there's so little business news-writing that I want to read. Obviously that's what the USA is all about and all I ever hear about, outside the Pgh Business Times, is heinous stuff like Enron.
copah: Still, I think you give a much broader spectrum of what's going on than most other Pitt-blogs. And you have a solid focus, which is more than I can say for me, who tends to float from subject to trivial subject. Oh, I think the Wall Street Journal does a great job, and I'd say if the N.Y. Times continues to fall from grace it should become our new national paper of record. But that's another topic for another time. Well, I'm curious...how did you get into this whole blogging addiction?
bagelface13: I was spending a lot of time at work not doing my job and surfing and I came to see blogging as not that different from putting out your own magazine, which I did at one time....
copah: Just cheaper.
bagelface13: Yes. And revisable.
bagelface13: It would be cool if blogging because a more popular pastime. Not that I think everyone could benefit from writing about their cat and their crappy job, but rather, I would love to read something like Dan Onorato's campaign manager's weblog.
copah: I think everyone should have one. It should be as standard as an email account. At the very least, it might stop people from forwarding all those "cute" chain emails. Or a pro athlete's. Or a rock star's. Or a prostitute's.
bagelface13: Well the prostitute thing's been sorta done, but it was on Salon and I couldn't get into it.
copah: True. And I admit, I do get a bit annoyed at people that dwell on a lot of the mundane details of their lives. But the nice thing is that there are unlimited choices. Somebody likes that crap and will read it, meaning I can move on to what interests me.
bagelface13: It is nice to know there is likely to be someone keeping an eye on whatever is their thing, so when you want it you can get it. Like Jilly's blog. In addition to her own writing, she also has a sidebar that informs me about upcoming rock shows.
copah: That's very useful stuff. And I like the Grainbag guy (I finally met him at Frank Black a couple of month's ago), and, despite our past differences, I've learned to love Yinzermullet.
bagelface13: John and his wife are friends of ours. Jilly and I met online first.
copah: I know. I like how he keeps everything so damn local. That's where blogs are going to trump newspapers that insist on running lots of wire copy and cut local news coverage budgets.
bagelface13: So what would happen if, as you suggest, everyone had a blog?
copah: Hadn't really thought of that. But I guess ultimately we'd find a lot of voices we never knew about and might see the downsides of the voices we hear too much of. Both of which, I think, would be spectacular.
bagelface13: I think there is a tendency, especially in a town this size, for it to become very "nebbishy" where everyone knows everyone's business if they choose to.
copah: That's interesting. One of the first descriptions of Pittsburgh I heard when I got here was that it was "the biggest small town" in the country. And it's true. Everyone seems to know everyone and their shit. I just tell people if you live here long enough, you'll eventually know everyone.
bagelface13: Well if you are young and trying to go out and about, that seems true. But there really are a lot of people in Allegheny County and you'll never know very many of them.
copah: I also think my views are skewed, given work, which pretty much requires me to go out and meet people. But I have had some surreal experiences: a month ago I met the sister of the woman who lived in my apartment before me. Stuff like that is a big part of the reason why I like Pittsburgh, whether it be real or perceived.
bagelface13: I have always found it comforting to know that if certain bands come to town, you know you will see Tim McNulty there. Or at the intermission of a play, you will likely know one or two people, or at the very least be able to say to your companion, "Hey isn't that so-and-so"? I hope that hasn't worked in my disfavor at all, but I have no doubt my bad attitude sometimes precedes me.
copah: Yeah, a lot of people know I'm a jackass before they ever meet me. And I have the double whammy because people make a lot of assumptions about the Trib and the types of people who they think work there.
bagelface13: Has everyone stopped reading that Iraq blogger? And there are fake marketing blogs that are supposedly like Bill Gates's blog but it's written by his staff.
copah: I haven't checked in on the Iraqi kid. I read Gary Hart's blog for a few days, but it was so damn dull.
bagelface13: I guess William Gibson is really writing his own but I don't care enough to read it.
copah: Plus, most of that stuff I can find in some form or another in the national media. I'm big on local blogs, and I like a lot of the whistle-blower blogs. I guess that's the business reporter in me.
bagelface13: Well ... have we said anything new or interesting about blogs? I'm with you, the local angle is important to me too.
copah: Ummm, I don't think so. Hopefully our reputations will preceede us and people will read all the way to the end just because they think we're full of shit and want to see what pretentious thing we'll say next.
bagelface13: I agree. Thanks and I'm going to go put my kid in the bathtub.
copah: I have a dog who is about to pee on the carpet (again), so I better jet as well. When is this running?
bagelface13: He wants it by friday. I'll let you know when I know. See ya soon.
copah: Cool. Thanks for letting me play. Talk to you soon.