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Wanna Blog About Crime?

(NOTE, 4/11/08: I’m going to keep this post at the top of the blog’s main page for a few days. Scroll down to see any new entries.)

For a lot of reasons, most of them positive, I would like to have some co-bloggers on this site.

There are already a few other folks listed as authors for The True Crime Weblog, but they are friends who have access if they need it, and they all have their own fish to fry elsewhere. I’ve never expected any blogging from them in this space, and have rarely asked them to do anything here.

So I’m putting out a call for contributors to this blog, but this call for new writers is very different from any I’ve made before.

Here’s much of what I’m seeking in bullet list format:

  • First and foremost, you must write well. Excellent spelling, subject-verb agreement, good grammar in general — they matter. So do pacing, voice, and cadence.
  • That said, you will need to set your ego aside to some degree and understand that I always reserve the right to edit submissions to this blog. I don’t care if you’ve got 5 books on the market, I still may tweak what you give me. Part of me hates to be this way, but when I had contributors to my blog in the past I didn’t make this explicit and regretted that.
  • You need to understand that this isn’t a paying gig. Most blogging isn’t, unless it’s supported by a media company or publisher.
  • I really want a contributor who understands that sometimes the mainstream media gets basic facts about a case wrong. Be ready to fact-check your mainstream sources.
  • Know how to dig deeper. Be able to fact-check yourself. Sometimes that’s as simple as using basic logic and strong web research techniques.
  • About web research techniques — if you think Google is the only search engine and the AP is the only wire service out there, don’t bother looking into becoming a contributor here.
  • If you trust everything you find via Google, don’t bother.
  • If you have no idea what Google Groups or the Usenet are, don’t bother seeking a spot as a contributor to this blog.
  • If your interest in true crime has more to do with the horror and gore aspect of the subject, we probably won’t get along.
  • I shouldn’t have to put this here, but I’ve learned that people can have surprising holes in their knowledge — so, please have some basic knowledge of html. Know how to link other sites.
  • If your interest in true crime is somehow bound up with a political agenda, I don’t want to hear from you. I don’t mind if you vote Democrat or Republican — I’ve voted both since I turned 18. I do mind if you constantly seek out stories that slant towards one set of beliefs or another and want to post them here. A true crime blog is a terrible place to try and create a bully pulpit, so don’t even bother. If you think you know my politics from reading this blog, consider the following — a little judicious searching of the blogosphere will reveal right wing blogs who have labeled me a loony liberal for something I posted here and at least one left-wing feminist blog that was convinced I was some sort of pocket Hitler. I’m proud of the fact that no one really knows my politics.
  • I really don’t mind if you have a blog of your own and think contributing to this one may be a good way to promote that blog. That’s fine. But please be on the up-and-up.
  • Pursuant to the preceding bullet point: YOU MUST BE WILLING TO USE YOUR OWN NAME OR A PSEUDONYM THAT SOUNDS LIKE A REAL NAME. I won’t post any entries here from ‘happypuppy69’ or ‘ferretwarrior5000.’ I really prefer real names, but completely understand the need for some anonymity, on occasion.
  • But — and this is a big one — you must be willing to let me know your real name. It’s a trust issue, and I won’t budge on it.
  • To contribute to this blog, you must be willing to post 3-5 entries a week. Think about that — it’s more work than you may realize.
  • You must be willing to interact with the people who leave comments on this site. I used to hesitate to leave comments on my own posts, but now I just dive right in. I’d like contributors to be okay with doing the same.
  • Another imperative — I admit this is a pet peeve, but I think it’s a logical one — KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACTUAL BLOGGING AND LEAVING COMMENTS ON A BLOG. I’m not going to take up space listing the differences here, but they are many. Leaving a comment on a post is not blogging. I like all the ‘usual suspects’ who make comments on various posts here, but they aren’t contributors. They can write 10,000 word screeds on anything they like in a comments section — they’re still not writing a blog entry.

Just so we’re totally clear, here’s a list of some of the things I would find unacceptable from a contributor to this blog:

  • Plagiarism — PLEASE understand what this is. This is a good overview. The blogosphere is full of it. It’s sometimes done by accident, but not often.
  • This is related to plagiarism — I find quoting entire news articles from traditional media sources thoroughly unacceptable. I used to be much more loose about this, but I think doing work as a paid journalist has changed how I feel about it. It isn’t precisely plagiarism because bloggers who will quote entire articles from newspapers may often link to the source. But it may well be copyright infringement. It’s pointless, to me. Either quote a paragraph and give a link or summarize and add in your own research.
  • Excessive Snark — Some crime stories invite sarcasm and dark humor. To me, those are usually as plain as the nose on my face. Most crime stories are a million miles from funny, though. If you want to post here, I need to be sure you know when it’s appropriate to snicker at what you’re discussing, and when it’s not. A big flaw I’ve found in some other parts of the blogosphere is how some people don’t seem to get that it just isn’t right to take a humorous stance towards certain stories. To see an example of a blog that’s nailed incorporating humor into a true-crime discussion, just check out CrimeRant.com. If you can’t do it like Gregg and Matt do it, then don’t even try.

The bullet lists above could go on quite a bit, but in the interest of brevity I’m stopping here.

I fear I’ve set the bar pretty high, but I’m searching for someone who will be committed to the blog and be able to bring in original, interesting content. I don’t think I need to be casual about that.

If you are interested, if you have further questions, please contact me via this page.

To be considered, you need only send me a link your own blog or send me a sample post via e-mail. Please don’t try to send the sample through my contact form — there is a character limit in the text box. Wait till you’ve heard back from me and send the sample post via e-mail.

I’ve disabled comments for this entry only to encourage communication via the contact form.