I never understood blogs. I viewed them as narrow platforms for self-conceited expression, where the holier-than-thou content published on them seemed to perpetuate a cycle of self-affirmation I just would never want to read. This view—an inherently wrong one, for the most part—prevented me from ever taking the time to find one worth reading. But studying journalism made me want to take the time, and in doing so, it consequently helped me understand that it wasn’t the blogs that we’re narrow-minded—it was me.
What changed my perception of blogs was not the most popular, but in my opinion one of the most important. On the American Civil Liberties Union website, they publish a blog aptly titled, “Speak Freely”. The title intrigued me. And knowing the purpose of the ACLU, I decided to do some research. This is what I found.
“Speak Freely”, updated with new content almost daily, addresses the same current events in US politics I was used to reading about in The Washington Post and The New York Times. But what I was reading in the Post and the Times were news. What I found reading on “Speak Freely” was opinion—intelligent, progressive, and well-written opinions on the same issues I felt passionate about. The First Amendment, protection of personal privacy in an increasingly digital world, equal rights—they all were contextualized to inform their readers of the status of how their rights, their civil liberties, and their government were being addressed in modernity. The content was relevant. The content was important. But above all else, the content was just plain good.
The blog reads like a newspaper, which at first, didn’t catch my eye. But the “headlines” were powerful and thought-provoking. Bolded titles, like “There’s No Such Thing as a Right Not to be Called a Nazi”, cover the page. The initial visual plainness of the website’s format allows titles like this to be the eye-catching content that draws readers in. At least that’s what it did with me. “Speak Freely” changed my mind about blogging. Maybe it could change yours too.