[As the Emmy Awards and the Fall Premieres start to take over Cultural Learnings, Jericho Fridays might be on a hiatus during the month of September, although I have no intention of abandoning the show. However, before this hiatus takes place, I want to take a chance to take the time to discuss the impact that Jericho has had on this blog over the past four months.]
Recently, someone asked on a message board how bloggers had worked in order to build a consistent audience. In answering this question, it’s easy to go through the usual: using Digg, tagging posts properly, and putting out content in terms of both quality and quantity. However, I had a rather unique response as well: Jericho.
While I had certainly brought a lot of content to Cultural Learnings before May, I had never achieved what I would consider an audience. A blog is one thing, but to be able to create a discourse is the goal of any internet writer. Without people reading, it can often feel like a rather fruitless endeavor.
But all of that changed with a simple post about Jericho, as after the show was canceled I decided to take the devil’s advocate approach and analyze just why CBS canceled the series. And, to be honest, I would still argue that at that point, before the campaign that followed, they probably made the logical, if not proper, call.
My perspective was one of a cynical TV writer, fascinated by the anger of a fanbase that, before that point, I wasn’t aware even existed. Jericho had fallen off my own radar months earlier, and this piece was designed to try to jump onto a bandwagon for mostly selfish purposes.
What followed was a series of conversations where I staunchly defended my opinion, and Jericho fans came out of the figurative woodwork to defend their favourite show. I think that much of my defensiveness comes out of shock that this many Jericho fans existed; I had expected this to remain far more isolated.
You can tell how this affected me immediately, as just days later I was calling Jericho’s cancellation a mistake thanks to the fact that CBS underestimated its fanbase. And then, just four days after my first real story on the phenomenon, I saw the writing on the wall: Jericho fans were making a real difference. And, well, I wanted to make sure that expectations weren’t too high.
This article is one of those where I play the role of cynic, but in a much different way: if the show were to return, I posited, what kind of show would it be? Could it be the same show even with cast changes and differences to its structure? But at this point I realized that the Jericho rangers were out in full force, and I was pretty well agreeing with them in this article, with some caveats that led to defending myself left, right and centre.
In the end, of course, the article wasn’t wrong: when it did get picked up for a 2nd season, they were forced to eliminate the component planned for outside of Jericho. But this article really showed me just how far this campaign had come. And thus, perhaps sensing a turning tide, I switched gears.
While I did start to discuss the peanuts campaign in more detail, one of the things that certainly sent me over the top, I’d say that the piece most representative of my change of heart would have to be the following.
In retrospect, this piece STILL has relevance to the campaign, and is something that I think reflects my shift here. Because it isn’t a shift to becoming a Jericho fan myself, but rather better realizing my role within the campaign.
And there it is, right there: my role. All of a sudden, I’m not just blogging for hits, or blogging for fun…I’m blogging for a reason, with a purpose, and with an audience. Using Digg and communicating with Jericho fans, I was actually taking Cultural Learnings to a new level.
When this fateful day came, just a few weeks after, Cultural Learnings was officially a different blog. All of a sudden, its stories were not just things people may stumble upon, but stories capable of riling up, drawing in and perhaps keeping an audience of fans who were passionate about their favourite TV show. I wasn’t drawing them in by being controversial or critical, but rather by working with them and understanding my role in this thing we call the internet.
And really, this is what I’ve tried to do in the three months that have followed this campaign. I’ve worked on trying to provide analysis that isn’t just there to be critical, but rather analysis that draws attention to concerns that could be relevant to others. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve kept blogging about Jericho.
While growth over time is natural for a blog, I hit peaks during this campaign that certainly boosted my Blog Stats ego greatly. And yet, what is most impressive is that some of you have stuck around. This experience working with you has been something quite empowering, and I think that every Jericho fan deserves my humble thanks for your support and your argumentation.
People like Hawksdomain, who so vehemently defended the show in early posts, became a reader who respected my take on the issues. People like Jane over at JerichoMonster started out promoting their series at random blogs, but over time became a distinct reader of my articles, something I didn’t think would ever really happen.
Over these past months I’ve tried to reflect my appreciation for Jericho and its fans by continuing to cover this story, and I hope that I have done a good job at doing so. Admittedly I’ve yet to entirely get rid of my cynical side, and sometimes this may come through, but in the end I’m simply trying to do for Jericho what it did for me: finding a purpose, understanding one’s role, and becoming a better blogger in the process.
Because, in the end, Cultural Learnings is the house that ‘Jericho’ built. So if Jericho ever needs some help on a construction process, I remain indebted to the cause and will remain more than happy to assist.