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May 05, 2005

Journalists and Bloggers and Will the Twain Ever Meet?

 Last Saturday I attended a conference (more of a forum actually) put on by the Denver Chapter of the Society of Professional Journaliststitled Ethics in Cyberspace: How to Do Bloggin’ Right.  It was actually quite interesting, and had a number of respected Bloggers and Journalists as presenters and panelists including: Rebecca Blood of Rebecca’s Pocket, Gil Asakawa, David Thomas, Erin Yoshimura and Ric Soulen all from the Denver Post Bloghouse, Chris Cobler from the Greely Tribune, and Internet and Blogosphere consultant / speaker Dave Taylor.  A very experienced and knowledgeable line-up.

The discussion was on a subject that I live everyday, blogging, aggregating, and blogging ethics.  It covered a lot of ground from the basics of blogging and “how to’s” to what set of standards should be applied to a professional publishing organization about how and what can and should be said in a blog.  Some good debate and discussion ensued.

What I found most intriguing was the perspective I witnessed.  I see blogging and the Blogosphere in a very different light than most, it is my profession, not as a blogger but as a service provider, NewsGator enables delivery of blogs and all other content presented in the RSS and similar formats.  As a blogger I am a hobbyist, with the sincere hope that someone somewhere finds “Carmichael’s Position” interesting.  To many in attendance at this forum, blogging was as foreign to them as a milk bucket is to a bull.  Not to worry, that’s why there were experts there.  And here is where perspective came into play.

Those panelists who are employed by a media company in a managerial capacity (except Gil Asakawa who seems to “Get it”) had a perspective of “how do we tame and domesticate this wild beast known as a blog?”  Many of them, not those that actually practice the fine art of blogging mind you, but more specifically the managers and editors of writers (journalists) were stuck in the quagmire of “how do we set specific standards as to what is written about, and in what person, and what about conflict of interest relating to opinion, and liability of linking…etc.”  This is where I think many fail to understand the difference between the word Blog and Feed.  Traditional reporting can be accomplished via a Blog or a Feed (both enabled by RSS), the differentiator is usually that a Blog is more conversational, by that I mean usually comment enabled and more colloquial in it’s presentation.  Often it is recommended and even argued that a Blog must convey a sense of first person passion for it to be attractive.  For the most part I agree with this assessment but I certainly do not think it is a requirement of a “Good Blog.”  Feeds on the other hand are more “article publishing” in a deliverable format, and usually much less conversational.  Having “Journalists” publish via a feed should be quite comfortable to them, via a blog is where things get dicey for them, they must condition themselves for instantaneous response, challenge and even praise.  This has got to be pretty foreign to the more traditional Journalist-reporter and is apparently, based on some of the questions posed by the moderator as well as a number of attendees at the conference, damn scary for them.

The perspective from those who are not considered “Journalist” bloggers (that is… employed by a media publisher) was one of “What’s the big deal?”  Say what’s on your mind, be open and entertaining, that’s what “Bloggers” do.  Link to whatever twists your doorknob!  Edit schmedit! Just post what is real and give credit where credit is due!  If you have a beef… then beef!  But support your thesis, because as Bloggers we have earned very little respect and credibility therefore we are required to buttress our position with supportive documentation.  Something that journalists are “Trained to do in J-School” and since they have that credential it is expected that they would not dare report something without exhausting the fact check requirements therefore they are not required to buttress their claims with links.

Here’s where I saw the divide: “Journalist” who haven’t quite grasped blogging seem to be of the opinion that every blogger wants to be a Journalist.  Bloggers, on the other hand do not seem to want to lower themselves to that level.

Here’s your solution, Bloggers should be defined (why a definition is required I do not know) as Citizen Columnists, rather than Citizen Journalists, those in the media space will have a much easier time grasping that concept, if a “Journalist” wants to publish content via a blog, fine… Adhere to the same exact standards applied to your normal articles and you will be safe, boring… but safe.  If you want to have fun in the Blogosphere, you’ve got to take the saddle off and ride bareback!  It’s a wild world out here in the Blogosphere, and you’ll never know the true freedom until you strap on your boots.  See ya at the saloon!

 

 

May 5, 2005 in The Press | Permalink

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» What's in a name? from Mike's Points
Many bloggers have been called and some even like to banty about the term "citizen journalism." I don't think that's an accurate, or best term to describe it. (Technically, maybe, but I'll get to that later.) Actually, bloggers are "citizen... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 10, 2005 11:12:24 AM

» What's in a name? from Mike's Points
Many bloggers have been called and some even like to banty about the term "citizen journalism." I don't think that's an accurate, or best term to describe it. (Technically, maybe, but I'll get to that later.) Actually, bloggers are "citizen... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 10, 2005 11:15:00 AM

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Fair enough Dave. Admittedly, that rambling statement was a bit exaggerated in an effort to create a bit of clear delineation between the extremes of both camps in a burgeoning space. I do think there is a place for professionals to write quite cogent, accurately researched and informative information and present that content in the form of a very useful face, a blog.

I should absolutely make clear that as "Citizen Columnists" we are not absolved from ethical principles, accurate statements or supporting foundation of our positions, if anything the opposite is the requirement. And for those interested in using a Blog for more than simple espousing (like I do in many ways) they should establish a method and theme to their practice and with very small exception "stay on point."

And for those who are not aware of your work, I highly recommend a visit to your site(s) as mentioned in this post, they will benefit significantly from your wisdom and council. Maybe you and bloggers like you are where the twain meets.

One final admission, you are correct about grammatical and technical editing, including spelling; I am indeed guilty of revising sentences and changing the occasional word to better fit a thought pattern.

I think what I should have conveyed in my post is that I am of the opinion that many professional writers view most bloggers in the light portrayed in my statement. Equally the converse may as well be true in that many bloggers view "Journalists" in a somewhat contemptuous light. Both perspectives, like any stereotype are probably equally inaccurate.

Thanks for the comments, as you know I do like expanding the conversation.

-JC

Posted by: John | May 7, 2005 1:11:28 AM

Nice writeup, but, um, I'm not sure I agree that I was in the camp that espoused "Say what’s on your mind, be open and entertaining, that’s what “Bloggers” do. Link to whatever twists your doorknob! Edit schmedit! Just post what is real and give credit where credit is due!"

In fact, I do edit, think through my discussions and arguments, and try my very best to present cogent and coherent discussions (as you have done with your posting that markedly lacks typos).

Cheers!
DT

Posted by: Dave Taylor | May 7, 2005 12:05:52 AM

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