Last week I completed an interview for The Pakistan Spectator, which is an extremely interesting blog and news site dealing with Pakistan and international news. I’ve included it my International Press Library.
By The Pakistani Spectator • Aug 19th, 2008 • Category: Interviews
Would you please tell us something about you and your site?
I’ve always been interested in politics and foreign policy and for approximately 6 years I did a column at another site called the “World Media Watch”. Later, I added a column called the “World Energy Watch.” My original plan was to continue doing “the Watches” at InsightAnalytical but presidential politics got in the way and I’ve been doing a lot of blogging about the primary season, with only a few posts devoted to foreign news. I hope to do more blogging about foreign news in the future!
I have a background as a public and school librarian as well as experience in the market research field. I worked for Gallup as a study director and other polling companies for a number of years. I consider myself a “citizen of the world” and try to understand the situation in other countries to the best of my ability. I blog here.
Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?
I hope to continue to present a variety of approaches to my writing. I tend to do a lot of detailed research pieces, maybe because I am a former librarian! However, once in a while I do pieces with a bit more humor, although lately, I haven’t been feeling very humorous!
I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?
When I was writing at the former site, I used to get “fan mail”!! Since I’ve started my own blog I recently “inspired” a column by an Australian talk show host which was printed in The Australian, the only national paper in that country. And, I also was interviewed on a radio program that aired a few weeks ago on the subject of polling after I wrote a post explaining some of the pitfalls involved. (I worked as a survey director in several market research companies years ago, including Gallup.)
What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?
I visit many blogs every day, post comments, and also mention other sites in my posts. Sometimes I send information to another blogger if I think it might be useful to them. I have been in touch with several bloggers for a number of years, as well.
What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?
Campaigns are getting more internet savvy in terms of raising money and getting their message out. As a political observer, I think YouTube has provided many clips that we don’t see on television news, as well as many creative videos expressing opinion. Of course, the campaigns may not like what’s there sometimes! Many YouTube videos “go viral” which can sometimes embarrass politicians who aren’t used to seeing what people with video cameras pick up during events! As a citizen, I find the research that many serious bloggers do a vital endeavor, considering that the mass media does not do much investigative reporting anymore.
Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?
I’m not sure. Sometimes I think people can be very isolated by sitting at the computer. However, some action groups can focus on their audience and achieve some success. There are sites that allow people to create and submit petitions, too. However, many people who spend time on the internet aren’t interested in news or politics. And people who don’t have access don’t have a chance to become involved via the technology either. So, the impact may be limited to those who have the time, interest and access rather than to a broader representation of the public. In the long run, I think that a person who wants to be engaged will find a way, with or without technology.
What do you think sets Your site apart from others?
That’s a hard question to answer now, since I am part of a group of bloggers who are focused on the actions of the Democratic Party at the moment. I do sometimes do very detailed research pieces which are in a different style than many other blogs. In addition, I have a section called the “International Press Library/International Broadcasters” which features all the links I have used while doing my “World Watches.” I hope visitors will make use of this page, which I update whenever I find an interesting new source.
If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?
I have a lot of perseverance and patience. I don’t go for “instant gratification.” I also believe in being flexible so that one may adapt to situations as they unfold. I found an interesting quotation the other day which struck a chord with me: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” Which is probably a more complicated way of saying you must try to “make lemonade out of lemons.” And an enjoyment of learning new things all the time keeps me busy!
What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?
My happiest time was when I found that I would be able to live and work in England for 6 months! I had traveled quite a bit, but it was my dream to live in Europe. And I fulfilled that dream, if only for a short time. But it remains my happiest time in life…Gloomiest? The death of loved ones in the family and the loss of each of my pets.
If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be?
1.) Right now, it would be China. I listen to China Radio International via shortwave and think it is extremely professional. The “Listener’s Garden” program is one of my favorites!
2.) Although I have traveled extensively in Europe, I would like to return to Italy and Greece, in particular, with a side trip to Sicily, the home of my father’s family.
3.) And, finally, I would love to see the ancient treasures of Egypt. I took a “concentration” (a minor) in archaeology in college and had a chance to “dissect” a mummy. My fascination with ancient Egypt has never waned.
What is your favorite book and why?
This is such a hard question to answer, since I did so much of my reading in past years! I do enjoy Jane Austen. John Dos Passos’ “U.S.A” trilogy made a big impact on me. However, I have to admit that it is a little book given to me back in 1968 that I dip into often. It is called “Quotations from Charlie Chan” and is a collection of witticisms from the character in the movies. It is rather humorous, but full of truth as well!
What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?
I notice how they speak and whether or not they are animated in their conversation.
Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?
Not that I can think of! I wanted to be a journalist in high school and majored in English in college and always achieved good grades and comments on my papers, including my honors thesis on Restoration drama.
How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?
I’m not sure how many independent bloggers can succeed in making a living blogging! Some blog as a sideline to their already established careers in the media and others give up their independence to aide certain politicians. Once a blogger signs on with a politician, I’m not sure they are really bloggers anymore! I think they are then operatives…
Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?
I don’t think that’s necessarily true! I am extremely busy but disciplined now in terms of keeping to a writing/researching routine. Many successful bloggers are working full-time jobs…you have to be very disciplined to do that and blog, too!
What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?
Exchanging views and ideas probably helps in people understanding that nearly everyone goes through common experiences, no matter where they live!
Who are your top five favourite bloggers?
That’s a hard question to answer, since there are so many excellent bloggers! I would have to say Larry Johnson et al at No Quarter; Texas Hill Country; Juan Cole; the folks at The Confluence; and Bartcop.com for a change of pace.
Is there one observation or column or post that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people?
An Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy—July 13, 2008 received a lot of attention and was posted on other blogs.
What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?
Pakistan has had so many problems in recent years and now seems to be on the brink of a seismic shift with the resignation of Musharraf. I admire the courageous journalists, judges and others who have fought for the people of Pakistan. I wish everyone there well and hope for Pakistan’s peace and prosperity.
Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?
I am currently amazed at how much information I glean from Larry Johnson’s No Quarter site and the variety of the posts on the Texas Hill Country blog.
What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?
People share the same hopes and dreams for their families no matter where they live. Unfortunately, we live in a world of haves and have nots, and so many of the latter are exploited. We are still waiting to see a true commitment to leveling the playing field.
What is the future of blogging?
I think there will be an ebb and flow in terms of its impact. So much depends on whether the internet remains accessible to all or whether companies will be allowed to control what we see. We’ve won a fight over this recently here in the U.S., but I’m not sure how long it will last. Of course, there are countries where the internet is already tightly controlled, so we’ll have to see how things develop.
You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?
Blogging gives me a great deal of satisfaction. I used to teach as part of being a librarian in the public schools and by researching and writing about certain topics,sometimes I feel I am teaching again. I enjoy presenting ideas (food for thought) to readers.
What are your future plans?
I will probably blog as long as I can find something interesting to write about! It probably will shift from the emphasis on U.S. politics to more foreign news, as well as gardening and animals, which are my other passions. I think variety and reaching out to a broader audience will keep the blog fresh.
Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?
I hope your readers find my comments interesting and I look forward to seeing some of them visit my site and if they do visit, I hope they will leave comments. I would enjoy hearing their perspectives on what is going on in the U.S.! I’m a person who is really interested in what other people in around the world are thinking!
Filed under: Current Politics, Life, World News Tagged: | Bartcop.com, blogging, foreign blogs, Insight Analytical, John Dos Passos' U.S.A. Trilogy, Juan Cole, No Quarter, Politics, Quotations from Charlie Chan, Texas Hill Country blog, The Pakistani Spectator, World Energy Watch, World Media Watch