Global Quebec likes to run the occasional 5-second ad for anchor Jamie Orchard’s blog. I find this odd, because she updates it about once a month, which hardly makes it qualify as a blog, much less make it advertising-worthy.
Today, she added her first new post since Dec. 4, complaining about bus service on the island. It’s an example of what not to do with blogs.
Let me explain:
- It’s a subject that anyone can write about. In fact, as evidenced by two letters she cuts-and-pastes into the blog post, anyone has written about it. Orchard’s experience having buses show up late and not wanting to bike in the winter are not unique and she provides no unique insight into them. Journalists’ blogs should provide new information if not personal insight. They shouldn’t repeat what everyone else is saying.
- It’s blowhardism instead of journalism. Instead of explaining that delays are a result of a bus shortage, she rants about how “Montreal must do more” for public transit. Such comments make us feel good but are completely devoid of meaning.
There are other minor things like the horrible formatting, but those two are the most important.
Mainstream media outlets are clueless about this blog thing and are just throwing stuff out there to see what sticks. Unfortunately, that leaves us with a lot of junk. I don’t want my journalists to sound just like those uninformed idiots on MySpace. I want something new and interesting. The faster journalist-bloggers (and the media companies who don’t want to pay them a cent to do this extra work) understand that, the faster we’ll see blogs that are worth our attention.
And while I sympathize with people whose buses arrive late, I don’t think exaggeration is warranted here. This isn’t some third-world country. The vast majority of buses do arrive on time and take people to their destination without incident.
I lived for five years in the West Island taking a bus every day downtown to study. Up to three hours of transit time each day. Sometimes buses wouldn’t show up, and I’d be left out in the cold for up to an hour. But even when I got frustrated, I never condemned the entire system like others have. I moved closer to the city, next to a metro station where I don’t have to worry about catching a bus to get downtown.
Yes, Montreal (and Quebec, and the unions, and STM management and everyone else) should do more to ensure quality public transit. But Montrealers need to be a bit more tolerant toward small disruptions in service. Montreal’s transit network is among the most reliable in the world, and I think we’ve taken that for granted.