The Twisted Psychology of Bloggers vs. Journalists: My Talk at South By Southwest

Mar.
12
This is what I said at South by Southwest in Austin, March 12, 2011. It went well.

Many thanks to Lisa Williams for helping with the tech and the backchannel. You can find a live blog of my presentation here. The audio is posted here. It’s an MP3 and plays on contact. The Guardian’s summary is here. Photo by Rebecca Ambrose.

There’s an old rule among sportswriters: no cheering in the press box. In fact, a few weeks ago a young journalist lost his gig with Sports Illustrated for just that reason: cheering at the conclusion of a thrilling race. Sportswriters could allow themselves to cheer occasionally without it affecting their work, but they don’t. And this rule gets handed down from older to younger members of the group.

So this is a little example of the psychology, not of individual journalists, but of the profession itself. We don’t often talk this way, but we could: “No cheering in the press box” is the superego at work. It’s a psychological thing within the sportswriter’s tribe. You learn to wear the mask if you want to join the club.

Six years ago I wrote an essay called Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over. It was my most well read piece at the time. And it made the points you would expect: This distinction is eroding. This war is absurd. Get over it. Move on. There’s bigger work to be done.

But since then I’ve noticed that while the division–-bloggers as one type, journalists as another–-makes less and less sense, the conflict continues to surface. Why? Well, something must be happening under the surface that expresses itself through bloggers vs. journalists. But what is that subterranean thing? This is my real subject today.

And to preview my answer: disruptions caused by the Internet threaten to expose certain buried conflicts at the heart of modern journalism and a commercialized press. Raging at bloggers is a way to keep these demons at bay. It exports inner conflicts to figures outside the press. Also–and this is important–bloggers and journalists are each other’s ideal “other.”

In tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine, which went online Thursday, Bill Keller acts out a version of bloggers vs. journalists. He ridicules aggregators like the Huffington Post and pokes at media bloggers (including me, Clay Shirky and Jeff Jarvis) for producing derivative work that is parasitic on news producers.

The queen of aggregation is, of course, Arianna Huffington, who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your Web site and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come.

Of course the Times does aggregation, too. When it reviews a book or play that’s a derivative work. We could charge Keller with petty hypocrisy, but that’s not my point. This is my point: There’s something about bloggers vs. journalists that permits the display of a preferred (or idealized) self among people in the press whose work lives have been disrupted by the Internet. There’s an attraction there. Spitting at bloggers is closely related to gazing at your own reflection, and falling in love with it all over again.

This is from an editor’s column in an Australian newspaper:

The great thing about newspapers is that, love us or hate us, we’re the voice of the people. We represent the community, their views, their aspirations and their hopes. We champion North Queensland’s wins and we commiserate during our losses…

Bloggers, on the other hand, represent nothing. They whinge, carp and whine about our role in society, and yet they contribute nothing to it, other than satisfying their juvenile egos.

Editorial writers as the voice of the people? Are you quite sure, Mr. Editor? Well, compared to bloggers…. yeah, we’re sure!

And to go with this preferred or idealized self, a demonized other, the pajama-wearing, basement-dwelling blogger. Andrew Marr is the former political editor of the BBC. He says:

A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk.

But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night. It is fantastic at times but it is not going to replace journalism.

Did you catch that word, replace? For this subject, that’s like a blinking red light. Or better yet: an icon on your desktop. Click on the icon, and all the contents of bloggers vs. journalists are displayed. Ask bloggers why they blog and they might say: because big media sucks! But they will almost never say: I AM YOUR REPLACEMENT. This fantasy of replacement comes almost exclusively from the journalist’s side, typically connected to fears for a lost business model.

Frédéric Filloux is a former editor of Liberation in Paris. His view:

Today’s problem is not one media versus another, it’s the future of journalism — it’s finding the best possible way to finance the gathering and the processing of independent, reliable, and original information…. I don’t buy into the widespread delusion that legions of bloggers, compulsive twitterers or facebookers amount to a replacement for traditional journalism.

Keep clicking on the “replace” icon and other fears surface.

This is Connie Schultz, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which has had a number of run-ins with local bloggers.

As I write this, only half of the states in the U.S. now have even one full-time reporter in Washington, D.C. No amount of random blogging and gotcha videos can replace the journalism that keeps a government accountable to its people. If you’re a journalist, you already know that. If you’re the rest of America, chances are you have no idea.

Blogging cannot replace the watchdog journalism that keeps a government accountable to its people. Journalists know that, but somehow the American people don’t. Replacement-by-bloggers talk is displaced anger toward a public that doesn’t appreciate what journalists do, a public that would somehow permit the press to wither away without asking what would be lost.

Here’s John Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune:

[Our] reporters work in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions. They do not blog from mommy’s basement, cutting and pasting what others have reported, while putting it under a cute pen name on the Internet.

Instead, the Tribune’s reporters are out knocking on doors in violent neighborhoods late at night, looking for witnesses after murders. Or they stand in the morgue and talk to the families of the dead. Tribune reporters are not anonymous. They use their own names, put them at the top of their stories and are accountable for what they write.

Here, bloggers are anonymous creeps. Journalists put it all out there and risk their reputations. Kass isn’t instructing bloggers in what makes them suck. He’s speaking to readers of the Tribune-–and especially former subscribers–-who are safely asleep in the suburbs, while reporters investigate crimes and comfort the dead. You can almost feel his rage at the injustice of the Internet.

The Tribune, of course, is currently in bankruptcy. It’s also welcoming bloggers to the fold through it’s Chicago Now site, which is a local blogging platform. Julie DiCaro, blogger for Chicago Now, responded to John Kass this way:

Being derided by reporters at the Tribune for no apparent reason probably isn’t the best way to attract new bloggers to the Tribune’s network. And, if I’m being honest, grumbling about bloggers these days is tantamount to yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off your lawn. It makes you look really, really old.

It’s not only readers who need remedial instruction in the value-added by journalists. Advertisers, too, need to be schooled. This is from a pitch to would-be advertisers by the Los Angeles Times:

What kind of awards coverage are you looking for?

Choose one:

A.) Accurate, in depth stories reported by journalists with years of experience.

B.) Unconfirmed, incomplete rumors spread by bloggers with axes to grind.

Here, bloggers vs. journalists helps underlines the self-evident superiority of the professional model. Of course, if it were really self-evident, drawing the contrast would be unnecessary… right?

This is probably my favorite quote of the ones I’ve collected. It’s from the West Seattle Herald, in an editorial about its competitor, West Seattle blog. (Hat tip, Tracy Record.)

Professional journalists don’t waste your time.

Instead of 3000 words about a community council meeting that was “live blogged” with updates every seven minutes, wouldn’t you honestly prefer 300 words that tell you what happened and what was decided?

What I like about this one is that question, “wouldn’t you prefer?” You can hear the tone of puzzlement, the plea for reason. The old school news provider struggles to understand why anyone would choose those new goods, like live blogging, that the Internet makes possible.

So far, I have been discussing what professional journalists “get” by hanging on to bloggers vs. journalists. But bloggers get something, too. I do not want to neglect that. Listen to the teet, a 25 year-old female blogger and writer in Columbus, Ohio:

I think I have an unnatural obsession with and hatred for the editor of the Dispatch.

Everything he says makes me want the throw my computer monitor out the window. Regardless, I’ve left him on my Google Reader. I always flip to the front of the Insight section on Sundays. I secretly love the pain he causes me.

By raging at newspaper editors, bloggers manage to keep themselves on the “outside” of a system they are in fact a part of. Meaning: It’s one Internet, folks. The news system now incorporates the people formerly known as the audience. Twitter and Facebook are hugely powerful as distributors of news.

I’ve said that bloggers and journalists are each other’s ideal “other.” From the blogger’s side, the conflict with journalists helps preserve a ragged innocence, which is itself a kind of power, by falsely locating all the power in Big Media. Here’s another blogger in Columbus, talking about the same newspaper editor:

Note to Ben Marrison: If you want to pretend that you, as a professional journalist, are somehow better than political bloggers … because you are less biased and less lazy then you might consider actually NOT being both lazy and biased while writing online rants for the world to see.

Don’t you know that’s OUR job?

We can be lazy and biased. For we are young and irresponsible. You are supposed to be the grown-ups here. This keeps at bay a necessary thought: we all have to grow up… someday. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one, and now, because we have the Web, anyone can own one. The press is us. Not “them.” Is this not the very force that brings 10,000 people to South by Southwest Interactive?

I have always found it fascinating that both bloggers and journalists will use the word “traditional” in referring to the model of professional journalism that is taught in boot camp J-schools and practiced at, say, the Washington Post. That tradition is about 80 to 90 years old, at most. But our experiment with a free press is 250 years old. Whole chapters of it were discarded by American journalists when they tried to make themselves more scientific and objective in order to claim elevated status.

But these discarded parts of the tradition live on in the subconscious. And with blogging they have come roaring back. I make reference to this in the tag line to my blog, PressThink. The subtitle is: “Ghost of democracy in the media machine.”

Let’s visit one of those ghosts. Lincoln Steffens was one of the original muckrakers. He exposed corruption in the machine politics of the big cities. This is from his 1902 book, The Shame of the Cities, a collection of muckraking reports.

I am not a scientist. I am a journalist. I did not gather with indifference all the facts and arrange them patiently for permanent preservation and laboratory analysis. I did not want to preserve, I wanted to destroy the facts. My purpose was [to] see if the shameful facts, spread out in all their shame, would not burn through our civic shamelessness and set fire to American pride. That was the journalism of it. I wanted to move and to convince.

The part that gets me is, “I did not want to preserve, I wanted to destroy the facts.” (Meaning: end the corruption.) No journalist at the Washington Post would say that today. It is not permitted. It would mark the speaker as unfit for the tribe. Although the kind of journalism that Dana Priest and Bob Woodward practice is a direct descendant of Lincoln Steffens and the muckrakers, something dropped out between 1902 and 2002.

“I wanted to destroy the facts… I wanted to move and convince… ” This is what dropped out when journalism professionalized itself in the 1920s and 30s. The bloggers, in this sense, are “the return of the repressed.” They write like Lincoln Steffens.

On the surface: antagonists. Dig deeper and the bloggers look more like the ancestors of today’s journalists. They are closer to Tom Paine than Bob Woodward is. They bring back what was lost in the transformation of journalism into a profession and a business that, say, Warren Buffet could invest in.

Here’s another dispatch from the newsroom’s superego. It’s the Washington Post’s social media guidelines:

When using these networks, nothing we do must call into question the impartiality of our news judgment. We never abandon the guidelines that govern the separation of news from opinion, the importance of fact and objectivity, the appropriate use of language and tone, and other hallmarks of our brand of journalism.

If you ask journalists why they chose their profession, they give a range of answers: to see the world, something new every day, I like to write. The most common answer is some variation on: to make the world a better place, to right wrongs and stick up for the little guy. Social justice, in other words.

No one ever says, “I went into journalism because I have a passion for being… objective.”

Or: “Detachment, that’s my thing. I’m kind of a detached guy, so I figured this would be a good field for me.”

And yet… When they get there, people who always wanted to be journalists and make the world a better place find that the professional codes in place often prevent this. It’s hard to fight for justice when you have to master “he said, she said” stories. Voice is something you learn to take out of your work if you want to succeed in the modern newsroom. You are supposed to sacrifice and learn to report the story without attitude or bias creeping in. And then, if you succeed in disciplining yourself, you might one day get a column and earn the right to crusade for justice, to move and convince.

This is a moral hierarchy, which bloggers disrupt. They jump right to voice, which appears to mock all the years of voicelessness that mainstream journalists had suffered through.

Last year a young reporter (and blogger) named Dave Weigel had to resign from the Washington Post after someone leaked some emails of his, in which he complained about people on the political right whom he also had to cover. After he was gone, some staffers at the Post dumped on Weigel anonymously. Here is what they said:

“The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training.”

Without the proper amount of toilet-training. Freud wouldn’t even charge to interpret a quote like that. Which shows that bloggers vs. journalists doesn’t end when a blogger is hired at a big institutional player like the Washington Post. Instead the conflict is absorbed directly into the institution.

Journalists today are under stress. The stress has five sources. Bloggers put all five right into the face of professional journalism.

One: A collapsing economic model, as print and broadcast dollars are exchanged for digital dimes.

Two: New competition (the loss of monopoly) as a disruptive technology, the Internet, does its thing.

Three. A shift in power. The tools of the modern media have been distributed to the people formerly known as the audience.

Four: A new pattern of information flow, in which “stuff” moves horizontally, peer to peer, as effectively as it moves vertically, from producer to consumer. Audience atomization overcome, I call it.

Five. The erosion of trust (which started a long time ago but accelerated after 2002) and the loss of authority.

A useful comparison would be to medical doctors: when patients can look up a drug on the Internet, research a course of treatment or connect with others who have the same condition, the authority of the doctor does not disappear. And it’s not that people don’t trust their doctors anymore. But the terms of authority have to change to allow for patients who have more information, more options, and more power to argue with their physicians.

In pro journalism, it is similar: the terms of authority have to change. The practice has to become more interactive. And this is happening under conditions of enormous stress.

The psychiatrist Robert Coles, author of The Moral Life of Children and other great works, wrote a book called The Call of Stories (which is another reason people go into journalism, to answer that call.) In the beginning of that book he reflects on his early training in psychiatry, at a mental hospital in Boston. He is told to make his rounds and classify his patients by the diseases they seem to be exhibiting, and note any changes in their condition.

After a few weeks of this, Coles is depressed. He’s doing the work, classifying and observing, but he cannot see how his patients are going to improve. So he goes to see his supervisor, a wiser and older doctor. Coles complains: I don’t get it. I am doing what they told me to do, but how are my patients going to get any better? The older doctor listens to him, and pauses. It’s as if he’s been waiting for the question. And this is what he says:

Our patients have been telling themselves a story about who they are and where they fit in the world. And for reasons we do not understand very well, their story has broken down. It no longer lets them live in the real world, so they wind up here.

Your job—your only job—is to listen to them, and then get them to see that they have to start telling themselves a better story. Or they won’t get out of here. If you can do that–any way you can do that–you are doing psychiatry. Coles got it. And this was the beginning of his career as a clinician.

I think this illuminates the situation with the professional press today. The story it has been telling itself has broken down. It no longer helps the journalist navigate the real world conditions under which journalism is done today. Somehow, journalists have to start telling themselves a better story about what they do and why it matters. And we have to help them. We interactive people.

For people in the press, bloggers vs. journalists is an elaborate way of staying the same, of refusing to change, while permitting into the picture some of the stressful changes I have mentioned. A shorter way to say this is: it’s fucking neurotic.

Thank you for your attention.

(Dedicated to James W. Carey, 1935-2006.)

54 Comments

  1. Great article, found it through your Twitter. I’m being brought up in the “traditional” J-school training myself at UNC, but I’m still young enough to appreciate why I got into this, sympathizing with that sense of loss of voice and the inherent anger with bloggers for not following the “rules” like us trained journalists.

    I manage to convince myself there is a voice in objectivity, in truth, if it can be found and accurately portrayed, and that that voice is worth sharing in itself. I am occasionally surprised that when I silence my own voice for the voice of the story, that I am the one whose opinion is changed. If I feel I am right, I should be able to find facts to support my argument to include in my story; otherwise, I’m just as biased as the rest of them with opinions that are baseless.

    • Dean says:

      “If I feel I am right, I should be able to find facts to support my argument to include in my story; otherwise, I’m just as biased as the rest of them with opinions that are baseless.” Bleh – finding ‘facts’ to support your opinion is easy to do, as is waving or completely ignoring others that contradict it. What is difficult is to actually look for facts that contradict your opinion, and then accept that your opinion must therefore be wrong, or at least not entirely correct.

      I’ve too often heard that there is no reason to try and be an objective journalist, because all people have biases, and therefore it is ‘better’ to have journalists just follow their bias so we know where they stand. I call BS. If that is the criteria, then ANYONE can be a journalist – including untrained bloggers. Let’s apply that to scientific research and see how far that gets us.

      Therefore, the problem isn’t blogging. Nor is it journalism. The problem is that sensational, biased writing brings views, and therefore advertising or sponsorship. This is the lesson of talk radio. People love to look at a train wreck, even while they decry its effects. Reporting on someone’s poor behavior or lurid personal life does nothing to actually inform, it only brings eyeballs. It is the journalistic equivalent of ad hominem – it completely distracts from the real issue and makes it impossible for anyone to actually get useful information.

      Today, blogging and journalism are about the same thing – convince rather than inform. If you can’t convince, then simply distract. Therefore, both journalism and blogging, with a few exceptions, reside at the same sordid level as gossip rags.

      Did I rant too much?

  2. Jay Rosen says:

    “I am occasionally surprised that when I silence my own voice for the voice of the story, that I am the one whose opinion is changed.”

    Very interesting. Thanks.

  3. Jeff says:

    Great article. Lately my friends and I have been discussing the difficulty of finding news we feel has not been twisted by either bias or bowing to advertiser dollar censorship. On the one hand bloggers can offer a “not for sale” perspective. Regular journalists have “trust” and are supposed to be unbiased, despite advertiser pressure. Somewhere between the two may lay the best of both worlds. A free willed yet integrity bound journalist who blogs with professionalism. This is my first visit to your site thanks to Tweet by cdixon. I will return to read more. Thank you for the insight above.

  4. Blogger says:

    I agree the word “replace” doesn’t describe what’s happening. I think that what those people are trying to describe is what we are losing that can’t be replaced.

    In most statehouses around the country – and in even more city halls – investigative journalists and seasoned beat reporters, the people who know how to form tough questions and whom to ask, the ones who dig behind the daily events that “the people formerly known as the audience” can see and cover themselves, the people who surface news that would otherwise go unseen… are the ones getting laid off and NOT being replaced.

    “Bloggers” has become shorthand for “that which is not in-depth reporting by experienced pros.” Whether or not that’s fair, it’s really a micro-issue. Isn’t the real problem the loss of journalism’s most essential (and irreplaceable) civic function? I don’t think it’s “fucking neurotic” to worry about that. So what if we don’t like the terms people use to talk about it? Isn’t that beside the point?

  5. Clara says:

    Really enjoyed reading this and all the comments. Quite thought provoking. I agree that there is a place for both journalism and blogging but I think one of the issues is the notion that anyone can be totally unbiased. It is something that requires discipline to attain (as Andrea outlined and expanded upon). As such it seems that journalists should be willing to be open about that to the public.

    Bloggers seem appealing in part because they are more willing to open up to their audience. This is in part because their audience is the only entity that might hold them accountable for admitting their foibles. But I think journalists could benefit from being given more wiggle room from this notion of being unbiased and distant. Revealing what happens behind the scenes seems to be of great interest to our current society. Hell, as fake as reality tv is–people watch it for the entertainment as well as the moments that facade seems to slip and they gain perspective on something within themselves.

    To sum up my longwinded point–I think journalists have been trained to see truth as unbiased when it is more about what Andrea mentioned. People read news to learn truth that is relevant to themselves (not as a selfish thing but as a way to understand the world better). The facts are vital because they are ultimately personal.

    It seems that journalists offer value in their quest to find literal (as literal as is actually possible) truth. Bloggers offer value through the lens of their experience and the biases therein.

    • Blogger says:

      Your point about what is “true” is a good one. Here’s the thing.

      I think “objectivity” is a means to an end. It’s intended create trust with the audience (and perhaps more importantly with sources). Prof. Rosen has argued, often effectively, that it’s probably not be the best way to keep readers’ trust anymore. Problem is, I wish Fox News viewers would turn to “liberal” sources for some intellectual stimulation and vice-versa, but I’m pretty sure most of them don’t. Are there outlets that have been successful at navigating that ideological fragmentation, via “pluralism” or something else?

      Sources need to be able to feel that you’re an honest broker, too – that their views won’t be misinterpreted or used to serve some end of or support some argument they don’t agree with. I think that’s what creates a lot of the fear that leads to dullness and self-censorship. I’d like to figure out whether that fear is justified among people who cover daily news, and how it might be overcome.

      • Dean says:

        Journalists should be trained as scientists and use the same criteria to ‘prove’ their assertions. If one contradictory fact can be shown, then the assertion is false. Instead, journalists (and bloggers) simply ignore and wave away all contradictory information, and their viewers/readers just accept that due diligence has been performed. Perhaps a peer review process for news before it is published?

  6. […] The Twisted Psychology of Bloggers vs. Journalists: My Talk at South By Southwest » Pressthink – (Tags: BlogsVsJournalism Journalismus Blogs Rosen_Jay ) […]

  7. Ron Brynaert says:

    Great article. Most bloggers tend to function as critics more than journalistic replacements, and many times the lashing out is all about hurt feelings.

    Oh, but that blog seems to have screwed up their LA Times Insider scoop. Cache link to actual ad shows that it’s not a “pitch to would-be advertisers” but a pitch to get readers to subscribe to the Envelope Insider Newsletter.

    I kind of think it’s off the point a bit anyway. If the ad were referring to political bloggers or bloggers in general in contrast to “journalists with years of experiences,” then it would matter, but it’s about Hollywood gossip (it could also be a swipe at Drudge favorite Nikki Finke who is often wrong when she swings her axe).

    The key mistake by the LA Times ad dept. (which led to mockery after this hit the blogs) was to use the word “blogger” and that’s the main point I want to get to.

    Bloggers are never going to get past the stereotypes unless they can find some way to redefine the word. It’s possible. Ten years ago it was impossible to find an elected Democrat who would refer to himself as “liberal” which was turned into a dirty word.

    We need some kind of “I’m a blogger!” advertising campaign or something…

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Thanks for the fact-checking.

    • Bryan V. says:

      This kind of relates to a comment I made on Jay’s pre-SXSW post about the semiotics of the debate going on here. The words blog, blogger, et c. are useful shorthand for referring to a particular type of content and method of publishing, but are mostly bullshit made up to promote proprietary services when the platform started to explode in popularity. They were a useful way of taking the universe of individual content and channeling it all into formal (proprietary) channels, for better or worse. Now everyone has to deal with what the term ‘blogger’ signifies to institutional journalists and much of the public.

      • While I am somewhat stuck with the word “Blog” in the title of our journalist-run, market-leading news service, because it began as something else and built a rep before we realized the naming mistake – I nonetheless do try to use the “b word” as little as possible. I am not a blogger. I am a journalist. I am a writer. I am a reporter. I am a photographer/videographer as part of my job. I am a liaison. I am a moderator. I am a customer-service rep. “Blog is just a publishing format” is our explanation, like newspaper, and you wouldn’t call someone who writes for one of those a “newspaperer.” If you write/publish in blog format, call yourself what you are – an editorialist, an advocate, a journalist, a poet, a humorist, an analyst … don’t use the outlived-its-usefulness word “blogger” at all. That’s my .01999.

        • Bryan V. says:

          Right! Can you identify the difference between someone, an institutional figure in this case, attacking you as a blogger and attacking you as a journalist?

    • La Chouette says:

      Very good article. I am not myself a blogger or a professional journalist, but I agree with almost everything you said.

      We are, more than ever, in need of the neojournalist, neither the blogger nor the so called professional journalist does a proper job these days, and the powerful have never been more free to impose its own propaganda as THE truth.

      The infantile journalist crusade against bloggers (or even wikileaks or the people) – as an excuse not to look itself into the mirror, understand its obsolescence and that journalism has to use the opportunity to rethink itself ; this new huge flow of information, allowed by the internet, literally changed the map of what the people need from a journalist (who needs articles weaker and less referenced than the wikipedia page ?) – is only one aspect of this trend where the old Empire refuses to adapt to reality and accuse the young of its own demise.

      On another matter, you have the music industry collapsing under its own weight, years of self content and uncreativity, and finding such a great escape goat in internet piracy – and is given by the governants all other the world all the means to prosecute the bad pirats.

      The starsystem is collapsing to, in that case the Empire accuses drugs, mental illness, but never its own flaws, as Bret Easton Ellis points out in his very interesting take on the “Charlie Sheen Case”.
      http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-03-12/bret-easton-ellis-how-charlie-sheen-is-giving-us-what-we-want/full/

  8. Eva says:

    Being a journalist, I have no special feelings toward “bloggers”. And I think that for every one of your examples of irate publishers I know a dozen collegues that, like me, use new digital sources as we do any source: if it turns out to be reliable we stick with it, if not we don’t. Being upset with the form of publishing is irrational, and not something my workload allows for.
    Sorry about any language related errors in this, English is not my first language.

  9. My response, from the point of view of science blogging where we have been having a similar but not identical feud with science journalists, is here.

  10. Joe says:

    Way, way too long of a post.

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Thanks! That’s helpful.

      • Gail Gardner says:

        Just as reporters at major papers have higher standards than a small hometown paper, there are different levels of expertise and quality among bloggers.

        Bloggers are as diverse as the population of the U.S. and each blogger has a unique background. Some of us studied Journalism in high school or college but may not have pursued a degree; others were traditional journalists who took up blogging.

        We are not all young either. Many of my collaborators are in their fifties and have backgrounds in business, marketing, or ecommerce. Sysomos has some blogger demographics for age.

  11. Mark Anderson says:

    This is a very insightful presentation regarding print journalism, but it makes me wonder how we might describe distinct, but perhaps related changes in broadcast media.

    Keith Olbermann was nearly fired for sending a donation to one team rather than another, even though he regularly editorializes, cheers for them, on a daily basis, seemingly as part of his job description as he defined it before he left the network under circumstances that still remain unclear.

    Fox News keeps many of the potential GOP presidential candidates on the payroll of the network run by Nixon’s former campaign manager, Roger Ailes.

    Yet when the White House tries to challenge Fox’s place in the White House press room from the perspective of the “rules”, other journalists stand up for Fox as a member of the club.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/23/white-houses-fox-news-boy_n_331437.html
    This is confusing to outsiders. Any interest in taking this one on?

    While MSNBC enforced rules that seem obviously outdated or irrelevant in Olbermann’s case, Fox simply doesn’t seem to have any rules beyond identifying scandal-struck GOP politicians as Democrats in the chyron and still Fox employees are members of the club in good standing. What are we to make of this?

    Why isn’t there some ritual by way of which TV news folk attempt to distinguish themselves from the militantly partisan likes of Fox and Rupert Murdoch (they organized GOP/tea party rallies, Newscorp donated a million dollars to GOP governors)? If it’s all about objectivity, what gives? Is that NOT the TV news credo anymore?

    • Jay Rosen says:

      I criticized Jake Tapper of ABC News for calling Fox a “sister” organization in the White House press room. He insisted that I was being petty and unfair, that he was expressing no solidarity with Fox, and that I was distorting what happened by calling him out for that. (It happened over Twitter, so it’s not easy to link to.)

      Because journalists like Tapper have to remain neutral in the culture war and Fox is a major player in the culture war, journalists like Tapper have to remain neutral about Fox and cannot call it out as a political organization that also does some news. That would be too political.

      • Mark Anderson says:

        Thanks, Jay, that’s a striking anecdote.

        Does that mean Tapper and ABC are
        also “bringing a tote bag to a knife
        fight” as you put it? Or do you see the
        ABC/Fox distinction as ultimately less
        strictly oppositional than GOP vs.
        PBS?

  12. Midwest says:

    “The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training.”

    From WaPo:
    “I’m going to make Darrell Issa an actual political figure,” Bardella said. “I’m going to focus like a laser beam on the five hundred people here who care about this crap, and that’s it . . . so Darrell can expand his sphere of influence here among people who track who’s up, who’s down, who wins, who loses.”

    The professional Journalists and Pundit class are letting down all citizens. And that is a shame.

  13. Mark Anderson says:

    Jay,
    One more question: Do you have the sense that James O’Keefe is considered a “colleague” by the Jake Tappers of the world?

    Have you heard any resistance or rumblings among the print or broadcast news folk about the James O’Keefe carnival?

    Is culture war “neutrality” from the networks really all it takes for a serial fabulist like O’Keefe to get prime time exposure for his invariably doctored, hit-job videos?

    It could not be more screamingly obvious O’Keefe is a political operative, a rat****** in the proud Nixon/Atwater/Rove tradition, and yet he apparently continues to terrify establishment politicians and is allowed to “make news” in the most literal sense of fabricating fake news events out of whole cloth. This leads to the equally literal necessity for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to report on the fake news of the day because the “view from nowhere” does not permit journalistic professionals to reference the actual world in which we live.

    Ralph Nader is no longer allowed to make news (or so Nader says), but James O’Keefe is? How did this happen?

    Is it that hard for purportedly neutral news rooms to say, “Hmmm, this guy doctored every video he’s ever released beyond recognition and is currently being sued for it. Can this guy and the phrase ‘credible source’ seriously come up in the same conversation?”

    Are “he said, she said” editorial policies operative even in the case of extremists like O’Keefe? Or is it all about viewers and they’re gambling that controversy is more lucrative than maintaining any semblance of professional standards? O’Keefe has no clothes, yet he somehow appears to retain public authority of some sort.

    Chris Wallace just finished the most recent fluff job yesterday. http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/chris-wallace-makes-james-okeefe-his-power-p

    How does the coverage the other networks give O’Keefe’s antics compare to the full-court, dusk to dawn, promotion of his handiwork we typically see from Fox? Are you aware of any soul-searching or serious questioning on the part of Fox’s competitors regarding their complicity in disseminating O’Keefe’s work product?

  14. Interesting piece. I put in 20 years at newspapers before becoming a blogger. And I’m sick of the blogger-journalist debate, mainly because I don’t believe that I gave up my years of writing, editing and reporting training simply because my venue changed.

    I still fact-check my work, I still write with authority – even if I do engage an audience and work closer with marketing partners. I still edit contributing writers, assign stories and set standards, even as I build a brand on social networks. The only difference is that I don’t receive a paycheck from a media company such as Gannett…oh wait, I do, through a blogging partnership.

    There’s a huge swatch of middle ground between jammie-wearing writers and dispassionate truth tellers these days. And the tired blogger vs. journalist argument doesn’t acknowledge that.

  15. Jay —

    Did you notice the astonishing change in this debate proposed by the Project for Excellence in Journalism in its Overview on the State of the News Media, released today?

    Belying its name, as committed to excellence in “journalism,” PEJ instead decries the news media’s loss of control over “audience data…the most important commodity of all” and the usurpation of their role as “intermediary others needed to reach customers.”

    Five short, key paragraphs:

    The biggest issue ahead may not be lack of audience or even lack of new revenue experiments. It may be that in the digital realm the news industry is no longer in control of its own destiny.

    News organizations — old and new — still produce most of the content audiences consume. But each technological advance has added a new layer of complexity — and a new set of players — in connecting that content to consumers and advertisers.

    In the digital space, the organizations that produce the news increasingly rely on independent networks to sell their ads. They depend on aggregators (such as Google) and social networks (such as Facebook) to bring them a substantial portion of their audience…

    As if relying on printing presses and Teamsters and broadcast affiliates and satellite providers and newsstands did not create layers of complexity, in the old days.

    …And now, as news consumption becomes more mobile, news companies must follow the rules of device makers (such as Apple) and software developers (Google again) to deliver their content. Each new platform often requires a new software program. And the new players take a share of the revenue and in many cases also control the audience data.

    That data may be the most important commodity of all. In a media world where consumers decide what news they want to get and how they want to get it, the future will belong to those who understand the public’s changing behavior and can target content and advertising to snugly fit the interests of each user…

    So audience atomization will not be overcome. The future will not belong to the audience but to those businesses that understand the audience’s behavior.

    …That knowledge — and the expertise in gathering it — increasingly resides with technology companies outside journalism.
    In the 20th century, the news media thrived by being the intermediary others needed to reach customers. In the 21st, increasingly there is a new intermediary: Software programmers, content aggregators and device makers control access to the public…

    PEJ does not envision that these are the new professional skills for journalists to master.

    …The news industry, late to adapt and culturally more tied to content creation than engineering, finds itself more a follower than leader shaping its business.

    To use one of PressThink’s favorite dichotomies, PEJ frames journalism as belonging to the “media” rather than the “press” and its audience is construed as consumers, not citizens.

  16. yikes…that is after “Overview”…please edit

  17. Tim G. says:

    The “enemy” isn’t bloggers, esp. when many old media types now blog, but Google and others of that ilk that resell content that they don’t pay to produce. That’s what’s killing the old media business model. (But, yes, it’s fair criticize old schoolers for failing to invent new ways to turn information into dollars, even as others, whether craigslist or Trulia, do.)

    Claiming that paid reporters see many bloggers as evil seems mainly a matter of cherrypicking quotes. Let’s see some numbers, instead. How many paid journalists blog? How many use bloggers as sources? How many link to and cite information posted on blogs? How many former bloggers have paid gigs? I see all of these every day, far more often that I see jeremiads against pimply bloggers.

    No doubt, the print journalism model, even in its imported to the internet form, is dying, and many journalists are frustrated, even pissed. But pretending that “they” blame bloggers for that fate smells of willful ignorance, even intellectual dishonesty, not bracing blogger point of view. What’s that saying from the old folks home of old media? “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.”

    • Jay Rosen says:

      I’m not aware of any evidence showing that Google and others “reselling” content they don’t pay to produce is the cause of the business model problems in journalism. Were you citing a study? I would love to see it.

      This speech does not claim that most journalists have this, that or another attitude about bloggers. I am not aware of any random survey of attitudes in the journalistic profession toward bloggers, which is what we would need to settle that issue.

      The speech says that these attitudes are still common; that is the only claim it makes.

  18. Cheryl Adams says:

    Very interesting read.

    The part that annoys me about the whole “journalist” vs “blogger” debate is the ongoing assumption that bloggers are hopeless social misfits, whining away on their computers in mom’s basements.

    However, most major newspapers now have major beat writers on a wide variety of subjects writing a “blog” on their websites. How should we take that as readers? Assume that those mainstream media (MSM) bloggers are unpaid and sitting in dad’s basement? I’m being tongue-firmly-in-cheek, of course, but it’s weird to see MSM at once decry blogs and yet simultaneously embrace them because blogging IS the future of journalism.

    The largest difference is that most bloggers are unpaid. Of those that do get paid, only a percentage of those will made enough money from their efforts to have it be their sole job. So the rest of the blogosphere does it for one simple reason: to express their viewpoints on a subject that moves them a great deal.

    I grew up wanting to be the female Walter Cronkite. It may not have been the most common ambition back in the 70s and 80s to be a journalist, but I grew up on National Geographic and Cronkite, and I wanted to tell those deep, fascinating stories. However, by the time I was just about ready to graduate college, journalism degree in hand, the news had been taken over by a drive for sensationalist news reporting and “two bite” news: the rise of fear-mongering in reporting, and the constantly eroding American attention span, ended up turning me away from journalism.

    But I could never stop writing. I started blogging several years ago, and then I decided to focus on sports writing (hockey in particular). Sports writing is very competitive, but I decided on my niche, and focused on that.

    Part of the reason MSM may choose to mock the blogosphere is the simplest of reasons: fear of losing one’s job. As we all know, jobs in journalism/media are becoming progressively more difficult to come by. If somebody is in a position of power (pro journalist) and they discredit the competition (bloggers), then it would feel like one of two things: either they fear change and/or a challenge; or they simply haven’t educated themselves about the latest wave of bloggers.

  19. CHWarner says:

    Interesting comment within Jay’s piece by the Chicago Tribune reporter. He can tell the truth about a city council meeting, but he couldn’t tell the truth about the childish, moronic, obnoxious behavior of his CEO, Randy Michaels. It wouldn’t get printed in his paper. It had to be bloggers who got the truth out.

  20. Journowatch says:

    I think this comment is a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with journalism in general and broadcast media in particular:

    “No amount of random blogging and gotcha videos can replace the journalism that keeps a government accountable to its people. If you’re a journalist, you already know that. If you’re the rest of America, chances are you have no idea.”

    The rest of America is far more sophisticated than many, if not most, journalists realize, or care to know, apparently. In fact, most people are far more sophisticated than the fake voice-from-nowhere journalist who assumes nuance is impossible in a series of sound bites. Jay’s episode with Jake Tapper is a perfect example of a self-imposed naivete that refuses to acknowledge that the knife fight is even happening at all. And is so doing, it enables the aggressor.

    It’s not just giving the Fox News a pass, it’s actually giving them cover. Nobody who knows what Fox really is will be moved by their treatment by other outlets, but it gives Fox just enough of an air of legitimacy to embolden their loyal audience. Ironic, isn’t it? Fox News uses the legitimacy engendered by being treated as an equal by the same outlets they constantly impugn to show off their conservative bona fides to the fan base. And Jake Tapper thinks there’s nothing going on here. Wow. Just wow.

  21. Don says:

    Nice piece Jay. Except… isn’t this a blog post?

    Unfortunately, for papers like the Chicago Tribune, they failed to realize soon enough that the paradigm had shifted, and their business model was outdated. Why did they not create a virtual newsroom in order to free-up the expensive office space required, and simply let their journalists work in their OWN basements?

    An earlier comment made mention of the latest wave of bloggers – many of these bloggers ARE credentialed journalists. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to draw the distinction – you can readily see it.

  22. Jay Rosen says:

    Nice piece Jay. Except… isn’t this a blog post?

    I fail to grasp your point. Who’s pretending that this isn’t a blog post?

  23. Doug Page says:

    Nicely done, Jay. I completely agree with you.

  24. danny bloome says:

    The Evolving Psychology of Bloggers vs. Journalists Calls for a New Word to Describe Those Who Report News and Opinion and Features on Both Paper and Online Platforms
    The Evolving Psychology of Bloggers vs. Journalists Calls for a New Word to Describe Those Who Report News and Opinion and Features on Both Paper and Online Platforms:

    My Virtual Talk at South By Southwest on March 15, 2050

    This is what I virtually said at South by Southwest in Austin, March 15, 2050. It went swimmingly well.

    Many thanks to Jacky Lin for helping with the tech and the backchannel. You can find a live blog of my presentation here. Audio will be available in the future. Here’s the official transcription. Here’s The BBC’s summary.

    Six-six years ago I wrote an essay called ”We Need a New Word for Bloggers and Journalists In Order to End the Civil War Between Them”. It was my most well read piece at the time. And it made the points you would expect: This distinction was eroding. The civil war was absurd. Get over it. Move on. There’s bigger work to be done. So I called for a new word. Not many people answered the call, alas. And we are still searching for that elusive word. Sigh.

    And while the division –- bloggers as one type, journalists as another – made less and less sense, the conflict continued to surface. Why? Well, something must be happening under the surface that expresses itself through bloggers vs. journalists. But what is that subterranean thing? This is my real subject today.

    And to preview my answer: disruptions caused by the [lowercase now] internet threatened to expose certain buried conflicts at the heart of modern journalism and a commercialized press. Raging at bloggers was a way to keep these demons at bay. It exported inner conflicts to figures outside the press. Also –and this is important– bloggers and journalists were seen to be at that time as each other’s ideal “other.”

    In a now-faded New York Times Magazine, the alawys avuncular and amiable Bill Keller acted out a version of bloggers vs. journalists. He ridiculed aggregators like the Huffington Post and poked at media bloggers (including Clay Shirky and Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen) for producing derivative work that was parasitic on news producers.

    The queen of aggregation was, of course, Arianna Huffington, who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your Web site and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come.

    Of course the Times snailpaper did aggregation, too. When it reviews a book or play that’s a derivative work. This is my point: There’s something about bloggers vs. journalists that permits the display of a preferred (or idealized) self among people in the press whose work lives have been disrupted by the lowercase now internet. There’s an attraction there. Spitting at bloggers is closely related to gazing at your own reflection, and falling in love with it all over again.

    For people in the press, the bloggers vs. journalists civil war was an elaborate way of staying the same, of refusing to change, while permitting into the picture some of the stressful changes mentioned. A shorter way to say this is: we need a new word that encapsulates both what print reporters and online bloggers do, one word that can fit both of them. Could it be “medialista”? Or another word that might come down the information highway any day now?

    Thank you for your attention.

    • I hate being so late to the game, not just your talk but reading Bill Keller’s piece as well. I for one was overjoyed to see Keller reference his own position, giving us insight on what it’s like to be a person with his level of influence. Isn’t this the VIEW FROM SOMEWHERE you have been calling for? If not, it is getting close to where I have taken your entreaties to lead. And he is spot on to refer to “the orgies of self-reference” of which he finds himself a part…OK, even as the piece is so very self-referential.

      I want the VIEW FROM SOMEWHERE to go even further. Every journalist writing about health care should tell us how much s/he pays for insurance, and ask that question to every doctor, insurance executive, pundit and politician they interview. Every article on the economy should reveal the reporters income and those of the interviewees as well.

      Having this insight into Bill Keller’s life as impacted by his job helps me triangulate the news as the NY Times sees it.

      I admire your work Jay, maybe more than Bill Keller’s – but just because somebody criticizes you it doesn’t mean you must dismiss everything he is trying to say.

  25. danny bloome says:

    “Medialista” – provisional new word for journalists, reporters, editors, bloggers, aggregators

    Bill Keller is a medialista at the New York Times.
    David Pogue is a medialista at the New York Times.
    Maureen Dowd is a medialista at the New York Times.
    Nick Bilton is a medialista at the New York Times.
    Ashelee Vance is a medialista at the New York Times.
    Kara Swisher is a medialista at AllThingsD.com.
    Peter Kafak is also a medialista there.
    Thomas L Friedman is a medialista at the New York Times.
    John Schwartz is a medialista at the New York Times.
    Jay Rosen is a medialista who teaches at NYU.
    Tracy Record is a medialista in Seattle.
    Andrew Sullivan is a medialista par excellence.
    Our hearts go out to medialista extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens.
    Tamlin Magee is a medialista in London.

  26. dogal tas says:

    And it made the points you would expect: This distinction is eroding. This war is absurd. Get over it. Move on. There’s bigger work to be done

  27. William Chancellor says:

    A much needed discussion and sound analysis.

    As an “accidental” blogger who fails to fit the stereotypes, but who has found an odd voice that has come to serve as an alter ego for my “paid”, non-journalist’s voice, I feel compelled share some thoughts in response.

    Firstly, I have always viewed blogging’s value to be as a collective stream-of-consciousness that parallels journalism. As you rightly note, however, the very technology that has enabled blogging has undermined the economics of journalism. The result has been a mix of seeing MSM journalists 1) losing their stride and being pressed against the proverbial wall; 2) becoming lazy, defensive and/or diffident; and/or 3) joining the blogosphere (too often without losing their place on the masthead or their retirement).

    Secondly, I discovered there were risks to believing others read you as stream-of-consciousness if you ever once are taken seriously for “getting it right”. You were not merely writing into the ethernet. After a few slaps for not thinking twice before letting the fourth right finger press “send”, one begins to find blogging to be a job. One also realises that failure to turn up at expected intervals suggests to the proverbial neighbours that one has been made redundant or worse by the blog’s hosts, which brings me my third point:

    3) Reputation-driven MSM mastheads have made blogs a part of their business model and they are overinvesting in a conflicted mix of managing and exploiting them. How many staff hours are budgeted for screening blogs? How much time to senior editors spend managing blogs? How much time in Monday-morning meetings is spent discussing blog trends? Who really lets their blogs roll on unchecked (except, of course, for obscenity or anti-Semitism)? What about the opportunity costs to genuine research and background build?

    Lastly, Wikileaks is a gamlechanger for blogs just as it is for professional emails. How long before lawyers win a landmark case (clearly, it will be in the menacing, overlegalised US) that prosecutes a blogger for wanton negligence of the truth?

    My stream-of-consciousness defense will then generate billable hours for psychiatrists as well as lawyers.

    We are in a Netherland. Open, spontaneous blogs are already a fading memory. Just as in farm fertilizers, natural composting has been replaced by corporate Monsanto product and noise to an extent that few real bloggers want to face.

  28. danny bloom says:

    So…..would a new word that encompasses BOTH print reporters and pixel bloggers help end the war? and what words might you suggest? or is this a dead end idea of mine? i am known far and wide for my dead end ideas, sigth

  29. Owen Greaves says:

    Too much time is spent worrying about journalism / Bloggers, the watch Dog’s are we the people regardless of what catagory we fall under.

    Worrying about whether the journalist is dead, or if the blogger is replacing them, is time wasted. Everything the Industrial age has taught us, conditioned us, or programmed us, is dead.

    New ways of getting information / news does not mean one is better than the other, I think there are more important things to concern ourselves with, there is a bigger picture.

    I feel like media and or those in the jonra are distracted by the fear of loss. Just my two cents, there’s more to say but, there is more important things to be done in our world than this.

  30. txpatriot says:

    I look forward to the days when old media are dead and gone. No more NYTimes or CNN to try and set the agenda.

    Just an endless web of citizen-journalists blogging about . . . what? Each other?

    If that’s the future, where will “objective news” come from? Will it exist? If not, will anyone miss it?

  31. I hate being so late to the game, not just your talk but reading Bill Keller’s piece as well. I for one was overjoyed to see Keller reference his own position, giving us insight on what it’s like to be a person with his level of influence. Isn’t this the VIEW FROM SOMEWHERE you have been calling for? If not, it is getting close to where I have taken your entreaties to lead. And he is spot on to refer to “the orgies of self-reference” of which he finds himself a part…OK, even as the piece is so very self-referential.

    I want the VIEW FROM SOMEWHERE to go even further. Every journalist writing about health care should tell us how much s/he pays for insurance, and ask that question to every doctor, insurance executive, pundit and politician they interview. Every article on the economy should reveal the reporters income and those of the interviewees as well.

    Having this insight into Bill Keller’s life as impacted by his job helps me triangulate the news as the NY Times sees it.

    I admire your work Jay, maybe more than Bill Keller’s – but just because somebody criticizes you it doesn’t mean you must dismiss everything he is trying to say.

  32. Great piece, Jay. The thing that struck me, on reading your list of five stresses for traditional journalists, is that the view from the other side is completely different (and more positive). I have a small hyperlocal website for my hometown, after about 15 years in the “real” news business. And I can’t tell you how much better things feel over here.

    I responded to your list with a list of my own: the flip side of your five stresses, from a blogging journalist’s perspective:

    http://www.journamarketing.com/2011/03/the-psychology-of-bloggers-vs-journalists-the-flip-side/

  33. Donald Frazier says:

    I’m amazed and more than a little envious that so many driven and hard working journalists have found day jobs providing them with sufficient income to pursue their reporting and writing on a hobbyist basis.

    Is it a diss to say it that way? Why should it be? Great and enduring achievements have come from amateurs pursuing their passions. Einstein had his gig at the patent office; Melville was a surveyor. Hosts of others lived off of inherited wealth and family connections.

    Today’s independent journalists cannot do that. (Maybe some actually do even though they don’t seem to come right out and admit it.) But everybody has to make a living, and digital dimes don’t do it. Perhaps we should be paying a lot more attention to ways that people who want to be journalists can make a living from doing other things.

    Sounds basic, simple, and perhaps a requirement if we’re going to have journalism in the future. But I don’t hear anybody talking about it.

  34. John Zhu says:

    Jay, considering that you cited 11 examples of journalists dissing bloggers and only two examples of bloggers raging at journalists, would you say that journalists are doing more to keep this conflict alive than bloggers are?

    Also, you say, “The story it has been telling itself has broken down. It no longer helps the journalist navigate the real world conditions under which journalism is done today.”

    What about the story that some bloggers are telling themselves, which you touch on briefly in your presentation — that they are on the other side of the system when they’re in fact a part of it? What story would you recommend those bloggers tell themselves instead?

    Also, related to this blogger vs. journalist debate, I think it’s about time we move past the “mainstream media” notion, which is basically an attempt to position oneself outside the system (no one working at a newspaper calls themselves part of MSM). Who exactly is included in MSM these days? TV, radio, newspapers? What about something like a Huffington Post, which has more traffic than the Washington Post, L.A. Times, or Wall Street Journal sites?

    The idea of “mainstream” doesn’t seem to make much sense in an era where anyone can produce something that, given the right time and circumstances, becomes a meme that gets more exposure than anything you might read from a newspaper or see on TV. Also, I think the so-called MSM is becoming less insular and becoming more influenced by individuals. Think about how much Twitter punches above its weight. Its user base comprises only a very small percentage of the overall population, yet the service has become a household name and exerts a disproportionate influence on media, in part because a disproportionate number of media members are on Twitter, so it gives Twitter users special access to the media and extra influence over media.

    • Jay Rosen says:

      Considering that you cited 11 examples of journalists dissing bloggers and only two examples of bloggers raging at journalists, would you say that journalists are doing more to keep this conflict alive than bloggers are?

      Yes I would, but bloggers are co-participants, not bit players.

      What about the story that some bloggers are telling themselves, which you touch on briefly in your presentation — that they are on the other side of the system when they’re in fact a part of it? What story would you recommend those bloggers tell themselves instead?

      That they are part of the press system, that they have some power too, that with (some) power comes responsibility, and that they have to help journalists do a better job even as they try to do a better one themselves.

      Also, related to this blogger vs. journalist debate, I think it’s about time we move past the “mainstream media” notion, which is basically an attempt to position oneself outside the system (no one working at a newspaper calls themselves part of MSM). Who exactly is included in MSM these days?

      I don’t believe I used either term, MSM or mainstream, in this talk. The only time you will catch me using”MSM” is in quoting someone else. However, I could have–probably should have–done more with that construction, “the MSM,” because it illustrates perfectly the appeal of a self-description that puts bloggers on the margins.

  35. Donald Frazier says:

    PS It’s pretty disingenuous and misleading for a number of people in this thread to use the example of MSM journalists who also blog to say that blogging is not all bad. This is a part of their newly-redefined job, for what they are (presumably!) being paid.

    Perhaps it is very, very useful for us to to make a critical distinction between blogger/p (for personal) and blogger/e (for employee, a blog posted as a part of a job with a salary and benefits, to serve the purposes o the institution that pays him).

    • Journowatch says:

      I like it, but might I suggest a more streamlined version (be kind to broadcasters month):

      Blogger for personal
      Plogger for press
      Clogger for corporate

      I’m particularly pleased with “clogger.” ;-)

  36. Taoshum says:

    I spent 10 minutes on Twitter, O minutes on FaceBook, several hours on blogs by people doing things or going places I wanted to know. I subscribe to a traditional newspaper, many magazines, google news, a local writer’s “webpaper” and watch news on TV.

    None of these sources tell me “what’s really going on”… at least that’s what my intuition tells me. Maybe no one knows? Worse yet, maybe everyone is afraid to find out.

    For example, the highest paid news people traveled to Japan to film/write/report a few minutes of “news” about an earthquake that resulted in thousands of deaths, millions of homes destroyed and lives changed forever. I bet the biggest impact of their coverage was to displace/deny housing and food to many Japanese who needed it more than anything. The information they provided to the “audience” was easily available, earlier, on line. Just sayin’… did you have a nice trip?

  37. Rebecca says:

    As a sport PR consultant, I thought it would be interesting to share a commercial viewpoint.

    In our quest for client coverage, we view bloggers as equally important but very different from print and broadcast journalists.

    When it comes to seeking out positive coverage, often clients will see anything achieved in a blog as having the same clout as that of a journalist working in traditional media. However it bears saying that the age and technical awareness of the client hugely affects the degree to which they adhere to this belief.

    Whilst the power of having a client referenced in broadcast or in print is undeniable and has more immediacy, online offers a longer ‘coverage legacy’, especially so if the media or blog ranks highly on Google.

    When dealing with Crisis Media Management, online can be a PR’s best friend. We have killed off some very nasty stories simply by putting out the facts or an apology via powerful and appropriate forums and blogs. Under those circumstances, an 12+ hour hiatus whilst you wait for a paper to hit the newsstands can be the difference between a rumour and a scandal.