Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

A tip of the hat to Mark Dwyer of Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville

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Greg Peck
Thursday, December 5, 2013

As a fellow blogger, I was intrigued to read today's Gazette story about Mark Dwyer. I've met Dwyer and find him personable. He's horticultural director at Rotary Botanical Gardens and, in the past five years, has written more than 550,000 words. Sometime this month, Catherine W. Idzerda reported, Dwyer will write his 1,500th blog post.

Hmm, I wondered. I've been writing weekday blogs since June 2009. I wondered if I've written that many. So I grabbed a calculator this morning. I work 46 weeks each year and post regularly each weekday. I started posting blogs three times a day for the first few months before scaling back to two. Since our new website went up a few months ago, I scaled that back to once daily. That's because we post the next day's editorial online a day early, negating the value of writing a preview blog about it. So I roughly calculated that I've blogged 1,560 times. When I got to the office, Dave VonFalkenstein told me I was being conservative: He quickly found the exact number on our computer system: 1,960. This blog adds one more.

Not that I'm bragging. I admire and respect what Dwyer is doing, even though today marked the first time I actually checked out his blog. Daily details about gardening aren't as high on my list of interests as they are for many people. I'm impressed that on some busy weeks, the gardens' Facebook page gets as many as 8,000 unique engagements, with people clicking “like,” sharing or commenting on a post. Dwyer told Idzerda that his photos from the gardens help drive traffic to his site because they come up in Google searches. Still, I'd like to pick his brain to cultivate ideas about expanding my potential social media reach. I still feel like a neophyte in a rapidly changing technological world.

I remember days when anyone could post anonymously on our previous website without paying The Gazette a dime. Back then, I could get 200 or more comments in a week when I had a hot topic or two. Those days are long gone. Now, people must subscribe to comment on my blogs, and if they comment, they know we know who they are, even if they use pseudonyms. So almost all of the nasty comments have vanished, and these days I get few comments overall. Some weeks, I'm lucky to get a couple.

The overall lack of comments is disappointing. I hope to keep blogging and giving our readers stories and information they find interesting and useful. With so few comments these days, however, I don't know how many people are actually reading my blogs on any given day or week.

Again, hats off, Mark! Time invested in your blog no doubt builds recognition and, through the years, will bring more visitors to the gardens themselves. Similarly, I hope my blogs build readership and translate into paying Gazette customers.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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