Eric Meyer's defense of a newspaper's right to squelch the personal weblogs of employees reads like a parody. By the time I got to the rant about socialism and Marxists, I was pretty sure it was a joke, if not an intentional one. Clearly J.D. Lasica got the better of this dust-up.
Meyer starts with a questionable assertion that weblog writers derive their legitimacy and attention-getting powers from their day jobs: "It's the employer's spotlight, not the employee's." That's ignorant of the way blogrolling works, but also ignores the star system that pervades journalism.
Meyer clearly holds weblogs in disdain. "Some of us concentrate on creating things of value, not opinion, for posting online," he sneers.
But this strikes me as Meyer's greatest misstatement: "Whenever you hire a professional journalist, you hire, among other things, his or her creativity. If the creativity you thought you were hiring is being siphoned off by some outside activity, you have every right to ask that such activity cease."
Creativity is not a finite resource. It feeds on itself. As a writer, I write better and more fluidly the more I write. It's more like a candle lighting another candle than a ladle emptying a pot. And creativity isn't something you leave at work, either. A company doesn't own its employees' downtime.
Yes, there are a limited number of hours in the day. Writing time is not unlimited. An employer would have the right to complain if a writer was not doing what he or she was paid to do, or if a weblog was too similar to day-job content, etc. But until that point, banning a personal weblog that doesn't make use of the paper's logo, name, etc., is counterproductive as well as unfair.