Interview with Philadelphia Daily News writer and blogger Will Bunch

Q: How did you begin blogging? Was Attytood your idea or your editor's
at the DN? How long have you been blogging for?

A: In 2004, I became interested in blogging for a couple of reasons. Like
most newspaper people, I'd long been interested in becoming a columnist,
and this seemed a newfangled way to do that; also, I'd become a big
follower of blogs as providing a counterweight to the spin of the Iraq
War era, and I wanted to be a part of that. I think my editors at the
Daily News were receptive to the idea because they were getting some
pressure from their higher-ups to become more Internet-savvy, but they
didn't want to really devote a lot of attention to that. So that fall, I
did a kind of experiment in blogging the presidential race, with the
boring name of Campaign Extra! That went pretty well, so in early 2005 I
started Attytood, with all subjects on the table.

 Q: Your blog is a mix of local and national concerns. How do you try to
find a balance between the two, and which subject do you prefer (if you
have a preference)?

A: In reality, I end up writing on national topics a lot more than local
issues, although sometimes I manage to tie both together. (For example,
in the early days of the blog I wrote a lot about then-Sen. Rick
Santorum, who was a national figure but also from Pa.) I wish I had more
time to devote to local issues, but I do think I bring some added value
to the website, since most of the other bloggers there are
more local. I'm definitely most interested in national stories -
especially presidential elections.

 Q: What are some of the aspects of Philadelphia that make it unique to
write about?

A: Ha! I would say it's more corrupt, although the truth is that most
places south of Minnesota think their state or city is the most corrupt.
I do find that Philadelphia - at least in recent history - has an
interesting civic psychology, if you will, a longtime inferiority
complex. Sometimes the people who appreciate it the most are people like
me, who grew up in the NYC suburbs.

 Q: How much time do you spend working on your blog vs. your time
writing stories for the regular DN? Do the two often overlap?

A:Good question - it really varies. For a couple of years I was doing a
lot of editing for the DN; this may be counter-intuitive but that was
more conducive to blogging, because there were gaps between editing
articles when I could work on blog posts. Since last summer I've gone
back to 75 percent reporting for the newspaper, and the blog has
suffered a little. I know this sounds crazy and its hard to explain, but
I don't do a good job "synergizing" the two. By that I mean increasingly
I don't even link on the blog to the articles I write for the paper.
Why? I guess because the tone and style is so different. I like
everything on the blog to be just so. The week after the Tucson
shooting, I wrote several long (and pretty good, I guess) articles for
the paper about political rhetoric, the mind of the gunman, etc. - but I
poured my heart and soul into a much more opinionated piece on my trip
to Arizona for my book, "The Backlash." The new editor of the Daily
News, Larry Platt, who started Monday, seems a lot more interesting in
publishing those kind of pieces in tne newspaper - we'll see!

 Q: What are the biggest benefits and setbacks of blogging as opposed to
normal newspaper writing?

A: For me, I've been able to both reach a much larger audience and also
have more fun as a writer through blogging. For most of my first ten
years at the Daily News, I wrote numerous front page stories on
everything from local politics to 9/11 and the war in Iraq - and that
did nothing for my career; I was virtually unknown beyond the walls of
the DN newsroom. Since I started blogging, I've written two political
books for major publishing houses, written articles for magazines like
Mother Jones and American Prospect and op-eds for the LA Times,
Washington Post, and so on. Setbacks? The biggest problem for bloggers
is time - I try to deal with that by only blogging at certain times of
the day when I'm on the clock for the DN (and never on the weekend) so
I'll still have some time for my family, etc.

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