Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Belshaw's World - a new venture

Like many bloggers, I write because I enjoy writing. In this context, I have ventured into a new form of writing, my own weekly column in the Armidale Express under the title Belshaw's World. This gives me a chance to express my views in a new way to a new audience - based on the site stats, I get very few Armidale visitors to this blog.

Writing for a paper is very different, more so than I had expected. There are no word limits on blogs, while all bloggers try to use some visual material to add appeal. In a shortish newspaper column you have to write to length, with visual material reducing the space available for words.

Yesterday I completed the second column - Monday is my copy deadline for publication in the Wednesday edition of the paper.

The first column led to two emails, one from Kate Hedges from Kentucky. I finished the column with a question:

Who was the New Englander who was reported as Chief of Intelligence for Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz and later became one of Australia’s first spies? A clue: he came from Kentucky.

Kate correctly identified Harry Freame. I wrote of Freame's life in New England Story - The life and death of the mysterious Harry Freame. Kate advised that there was a display about the life of past Kentuckians in the Kentucky Hall including Freame. Visitors can get the key from the Kentucky store.

I mentioned the difference between blogging and writing for print.

If you make an error with a blog post you can correct on-line. You cannot do this with a print column. In preparing my second column, I wrote Kate's name as Kate Henry, not Hedges. I know how it happened - Ken Henry was in fact on my mind. As soon as I spotted the mistake I emailed Kate, but I think that the damage was done.

The second email came from Jack Arnold. Like me, Jack is a long standing supporter of self-government for New England, although we disagree on the boundaries. I see the Hunter as a natural part of New England. Jack, I think, feels that the heavy Newcastle No vote at our 1967 referendum, a vote that cost us dearly, means that Newcastle must be excluded.

I will talk about this at some point in the context of the changing definitions of New England.

Jack also commented on my spy question, noting that Dr Kevin Smith, formerly of ATC and UNE had written a good article on Harry Freame earlier this year. I did not know this, and it affects what I might write. I have emailed Kevin to get details.

In all, despite my error with Kate and recognising that it is still early days, I suspect that I am going to have a lot of fun with the column.

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