By David H. Kirkwood
After editing and writing for newspapers and magazines for the past 35 years or so, what appealed to me most about blogging was the complete change of pace that it offered.
Don’t get me wrong. I still believe that printed publications have some unique virtues. And, while they face enormous challenges, I am convinced that some traditional publications—at least the best of them—have a good future. Indeed, I still keep my hand in as a contributor to various journals.
However, having the opportunity to blog—and to do so in association with such an esteemed group of friends and colleagues—has proven to be a great pleasure. Why so? Let me count the ways.
(1) Timeliness: What a treat it is to be able to publish an article as soon as it is written and edited. All I do is push a few buttons on my Mac, and it’s out there for anyone in the world with access to the Internet. Contrast that with print. There, articles that were fresh and timely when they left my desk, would often grow old, out-of-date, and behind the competition during the days or weeks it took them to be printed and mailed out to readers.
(2) Geographic reach: The cost of delivering a print publication quickly becomes prohibitive when would-be readers are located thousands of miles from the printing plant. It’s especially impractical to send journals to a reader who lives someplace where the potential audience is small. But that’s no problem with a blog. We can reach anyone anywhere. And, in fact, Hearing Health Matters is doing that. Although we published our first issue less than four months ago, I can see through the magic of Google Analytics that people from Armenia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and more than 60 other countries have visited us in the past month. It’s great fun to watch as more and more countries on the Google map turn green, signifying that residents have discovered our blog
(3) Diversity of audience: For basically the same reasons our blog is available everywhere, we are also accessible to every person who shares our premise that “Hearing Health Matters.” Our readers don’t need to be in any particular profession or affinity group or be on any mailing list to get a free subscription. True, it will take a while for the hundreds of millions of hearing-impaired consumers and their families to find out about us, and some of them never will. But thanks to word of mouth and to the power of search engines, people looking online for information about hearing are being steered our way. Since I went into this project with the goal of reaching both hearing care professionals and the consumers they serve, I am especially gratified to find that we’re reaching a broader audience than would be possible through print.
(4) Space: Any print editor has known the anguish of having to slash an excellent article to fit into a limited space. We’ve also experienced the dread of having 40 pages to fill and only 30 pages of available content. On a blog, articles can be as long or short as they should be. There is no reason to cut or stretch them to match the amount of space that happens to be available.
(5) Freedom: Most of my past experience has been with publications that tried to cover their beat comprehensively. In one case it was a town, in the other an industry/profession. However, with blogs, at least certainly with this one, we are not trying to cover everything related to hearing health. Rather, we are providing a selection of excellent articles, the great majority of them available nowhere else. Written by knowledgeable authors, they are designed to be of interest and value to people who care about hearing.
(15) Fun: Take all the reasons I’ve given for blogging, add them up, and you get the final reason why I’m glad to be involved with this venture. I hope that all of you enjoy reading it and will recommend it to anyone you know who agrees with us that Hearing Health Matters.
David H. Kirkwood, Associate Editor of hearinghealthmatters.org, has been reporting on hearing care since 1990.