personal vs professional blogging

A friend of mine recently pointed me at the newspaper-associated blog of a “recent Appalachian State University graduate and now a freelance reporter for The Charlotte Observer”.

Ms Penland seems like a nice person – but her writing is not at all what I would expect for a blog associated with a newspaper – it is far more like a personal journal of a teenager than a professional blog of a reporter.

I’m all for personal voice showing-up in folks’ writing (it certainly does on all of the blogs I follow – and on the ones I write ;)) – but when you’re writing reviews for a newspaper, it would seem like you’d try to be a bit more … professional in your writing.

Besides the myriad grammar errors (I know – we all have them, but certainly some proofreading should be done to catch things like “was is“), it seems she has a routine dislike for “chains” – and yet visits many. She also refers to her boyfriend in many of her reviews: a perfectly fine thing to do in passing, but she ends up making some of them more about him than about the place they went.

As a “recent graduate”, I wouldn’t necessarily expect Brittany’s writing to be on par with, say, Malcolm Gladwell, but I would expect it to be at the level of, well, a college graduate. (I have seen some collegiate writing that appalled me when I was in school – writing submitted by 4th year English Majors that looked like it was pulled from a 6th grade student’s portfolio: but those folks don’t [typically] get hired by newspapers… do they?)

I hope Ms Penland’s writing improves dramatically through her “freelance” association with the Observer, but I also hope that the Observer doesn’t have too many folks like her writing in association with them: it reflects poorly on their editorial staff and hiring practices if they do.