I used to get paid to write. I wrote a weekly column for a major Bay Area Newspaper conglomerate. The coolest writing moment I ever had during those 12 years was the time I was waiting in the Oakland Airport for a flight to Hawaii and I turned to my right and spotted a man sitting near me reading the Oakland Tribune. Guess whose column he was reading? It was my closest brush with feeling famous.
My last piece appeared seven years later. Yet, every column the two years prior to that could have been my last. Ultimately, one was. Newspapers were shrinking and my column became part of the shrinkage.
I'm still writing, obviously, but I'm part of the masses. Now, ANYONE can write and publish on the Internet. Anyone can blog. This is good.
But it's also bad. It used to be an honor to write for a commercial periodical because not anyone could do it. It wasn't easy gig to get. Once I had it, it wasn't easy to keep. Not everything I wrote was accepted by my editor. If I wrote a bad sentence or made a stupid statement, he called me on it. Weak columns were rejected.
The result was, whether it was mine or anyone else's, published material had a certain level of quality – an intelligence bar had to be cleared.
The Internet ended that. It opened the flood gates and low quality, amateurish writing poured through them. Quality control disappeared. The lowest quality of all? Any "Comments" section – that's where the dimwits and lowlifes unveil their stupidity for all to read.
One of my former students, Krithic Annamalai, is the director of marketing at Sidelines. Sidelines is a website for smart people who care about sports. Anyone can APPLY to write comments on Sidelines, but not everyone is accepted. To get published on Sidelines, you have to have something intelligent to say, and you have to be, at least, a competent writer.
Quality control on an Internet "Comments" section? It's about time! I can't wait until Sidelines expands beyond sports into politics. Intelligent commentary on that subject is not something we need. It's something upright, educated people crave.
I challenge you to try Sidelines out as a "contributor." As a bonus, if you use this link (and only this link) to apply http://sdln.es/6g58 (and you're accepted) Sidelines will donate $2.00 to the KEFI Foundation. Please give it a shot!