The original idea behind The Gaijin Ghost was to have a travel blog that would de-emphasize the blogger and make the reader the main character, rather like a Choose Your Own Adventure book where the reader is invited in with the words, “You’re the star of the story!” For a while, I even tried to adhere to a mandate of never using first-person pronouns here on the site. It can actually be tricky to write like that when you’re trying to synthesize subjective experiences into travel blog posts.
Neutrality, objectivity, used to be one of the basic tenets of professional journalism, of course, but much has changed since the days of pasting newspaper flats together by hand. A few years back, The Washington Post actually had an interesting article about how personal essays conquered journalism—and why they can’t cut it. I still think it’s a good general rule not to use first-person pronouns too much in blogging about movies and travel simply because it can be alienating to have someone constantly interjecting himself or herself into a piece that is otherwise trying to highlight a film or sightseeing spot.
The way I look at it, movie blog posts should be about the artistry that goes into a given film and its themes. Travel blog posts should be about the features of a place that others might find it useful to know about. They’re not meant to be chapters in a writer’s autobiography.
That said, in venturing out as a freelancer and using my own name for bylines, I’ve come to relax my “no first person pronouns” standard a bit. The funny thing is, right around the time I started doing this, I also started doing some freelance writing for GaijinPot Travel. I contribute to the GaijinPot Blog, too, and posts there do carry a byline, but posts on GaijinPot Travel do not. So it’s as if I strayed from being The Gaijin Ghost, only to come back around and wind up being The Gaijin Ghostwriter for GaijinPot Travel.
On the sidebar, I’ve already linked to a couple GaijinPot Travel entries where you can clearly see my fingerprints on them insofar as all of the photos in each entry have my name on them. Those are entries I wrote and so are the ones listed below. However, in these six posts, particularly the ones related to Fuji Four Lakes, the photo or photos I contributed are mixed in with other contributor’s photos. So in some cases, there may only be one picture in there, like a little Easter egg, with my name on it.