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The Wednesday Slice

Before The Slice Blog debuted a year ago, I had a concern.

Well, two actually. One was pretty basic: What if nobody reads it?

I addressed that by deciding to have fun and not fret about it too much. Still had my day job, after all.

But there was another worry: What if I use contributions from my regular readers and then anonymous commenters pounce on those individuals in an insanely hostile manner?

In the print world, I can more or less shield my correspondents from abuse. That would not be the case on the blog — at least not to the same extent.

I had this vision of trotting out some proud grandmother's tale about something her grandchild said and then looking on as unhinged commenters flamed her.

Now the print Slice column has appeared on this site for years. My sense is that it doesn't get much attention online. But SR web readers have always been free to bash it at will. As it happens, those few online readers who have bothered to take shots mostly aimed at me. Which, of course, is fine. Affirming, even.

Still, I feared individual blog posts based on a Slice reader's contribution would alter the equation. I was afraid such posts would be a tempting target, even if they were decidedly not about politics, race or law enforcement..

In the end, this didn't materialize as an issue. For one thing, a seemingly high percentage of those submitting  observations, stories and Slice answers to me have no real interest in showing up on the blog. Sad but true. For most, my using their offering on the blog is the same as not having used it at all.

People have been nice about this, but the message has been clear. So I wound up using not nearly as much newspaper reader-submitted material as I had anticipated. 

Another factor is the simple reality that, though it has some readers, this blog doesn't attract many comments. I have mixed feelings about that. More comments would be nice, certainly. But I'm pleased to note that virtually all of my regular providers of visible feedback are good-natured.

Thanks to them and all others who have spent time with The Slice Blog.

One of my posts on the blog's opening day last year was a circular Q and A. I'll conclude this edition of The Wednesday Slice with a follow-up.

Q: Doesn't sound like there's much synergy between the print column and the blog. Why even bother with the blog?

A: Well, I enjoy producing it. And I always hope to connect with readers I might not reach otherwise. Have no idea if its existence has ever once helped sell an online ad. 

Q: Isn't your approach a lot like the way you write your print column, and isn't that considered a classic recipe for failure online?

A: You have a point.

Q: Given the trends for newspapers, I can see why you might want to do something that's not print. But why be so half-assed? Why not jump into social media with both feet?

A: Another good point.

Q: What have you learned?

A: The SR's Dave Oliveria told me that, given the 24/7 potential of blogging and the fact that you can instantly publish from home, it would be a challenge to maintain boundaries between work and non-work. He was right.

Q: Have you considered that The Slice Blog might be inane, irrelevant and boring?

A: Sure. But it seems like there isn't one monolithic audience for any online content except maybe porn and pictures of cats. People pick and choose. Some in Spokane and elsewhere might be interested in the same things that interest me. Well, some of the time.

Q: Of all the journalists and quasi-journalists working in the United States today, might you be the most ridiculously self-impressed when it comes to your own work milestones? 

A: It's quite possible.

Q: Are you going to do some things differently during the blog's second year?

A: Yes.

Q: Like what?

A: You'll have to come back to find out.


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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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