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the big blog company | Journalism
“Oh wow, that's a big blog you've got there!”
Some important bloke on some important blog.
Journalism
February 24, 2005
Thursday
Rap this, beeyotch
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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Back in November, a BBC interviewer asked me if blogging is “the new jazz”. I cannot tell you how hard my eyes rolled at that one.

When I related the exchange to Mike Sigal from Guidewire, the group that stages DEMO, his eyes widened. ”Actually,” he said, “the interviewer didn’t realise it, but his question could be interpreted to make sense.” Mike’s take was that, since bloggers riff off of one another, in a way the whole process of blogging is somewhat jazz-like. Well, okay.

Slate’s Josh Levin has taken an analogy that just about makes sense and managed to get it all wrong. No, I’m not referring to his mistaken belief that credential is a verb (c’mon, dude, didn’t a grasp of basic grammar come with those credentials of yours?). His claim that rappers and bloggers were “separated at birth” is, I guess, supposed to be a humorous take - or so the exclamation point in the subtitle indicates. Levin proclaims:

[I]n newspaper writing and rock music, the end goal is the appearance of originality—to make the product look seamless by hiding your many small thefts. For rappers and bloggers, each theft is worth celebrating, another loose item to slap onto the collage.

Levin maintains that citing sources in blog posts equals stealing. The logic that has led him to this conclusion can only be imagined, and it ain’t pretty. (Does he pride himself on never citing research or sources in his own work, or did I imagine all those links to, er, bloggers in his piece?) Still, he’s demonstrated adept use of another trick of the trade that makes “credentialed” journalists, as he’d refer to himself, so goshdarned special: Dressing up an incorrect argument as a humour piece, all the better to claim, “Hey, it was meant to be funny, don’t take this stuff so seriously!” when he gets laughed at for being wrong. As Peggy Noonan wrote recently (and Adriana blogged here even more recently):

When you hear name-calling like what we’ve been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don’t have a serious case of freedom envy.

Congratulations on your credentials, Levin. I hope they have served you well in an industry where you imagine that citing research and sources is tantamount to theft, because you won’t be getting by on them for much longer. 

Careless blogs cost jobs
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • tBBC in the media • Journalism 
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Another article about ‘blogging’ in the UK mainstream press (and not in the Guardian!), this time about the tendency (if a few cases can be called that) of bloggers getting fired for blogging about their work and employer on personal blogs. It is written by a journalist blogger from the position of whether bloggers have any say in this. Michael Pollitt has a pleasant looking blog disconnected jottings and blogs about the article himself:

Careless blogs cost jobs looks at what happened to two bloggers when they wrote about work. They were dooced. In case you’re wondering, the word dooced was first used by American blogger Heather Armstrong who lost her job in 2002.

Joe Gordon of the Waterstone’s firing fame. He had been making remarks about his employer on his blog Woolamaloo Gazette for some time when things came to a rather shocking (for Joe) finale:

Shortly before Christmas, he was called to his manager’s office and informed of an investigation for gross misconduct. “I was suspended on pay and escorted from the premises of the bookstore I had worked in for 11 years,” Gordon wrote. He was dismissed in January for bringing the company into disrepute.

There is also this bit in the article:

It’s also important for employers to devise blogger strategies. Adriana Cronin-Lukas, a partner in The Big Blog Company, is an ardent blogger who also helps companies set up blogs. “I want employers to understand that employees are individuals and they have their freedoms,” she says. “If the company doesn’t have a blogging policy, it’s very hard for employees who have personal blogs. If an employer has a very strong opinion about blogs, then they should have a policy and give bloggers a chance to decide for themselves.”

They print anything these days, I tell ya. grin

Michael reveals on his blog that the Waterstone affair continues:

Joe Gordon contacted me on Monday afternoon to say that there was a settlement offered by Waterstone’s following an appeal with the help of his union (The Retail Book Association) against his dismissal in January. In lieu of reinstatement, Waterstone’s was now coming to an amicable agreement involving compensation.

Waterstones should be officially commenting in the next few days and Michael will blog about it on his blog. By the way, doesn’t it look so odd nowadays for a company to take a few days(!) to comment on something that happened weeks/months ago? This is not going to be possible for long as those companies who refuse to communicate will be confined to their PR controlled oblivion…

The final twist in the tale is that Joe will be running an official Forbidden Planet blog as part of his new job.

The company will be using the blog to communicate with customers, says Joe, as well as sharing new book titles they are excited about between issues of a quarterly magazine (Joe will write for that as well).

The message of the article is that both bloggers and companies should take note:

Blogs are growing in influence within and beyond the “blogosphere”. But most bloggers are not aware of the dangers they face when casually turning in what they think is a harmless account of their day at work. No matter how well intentioned, the blogger is usually the loser. And bloggers and employers clearly need to understand each other better before the word dooced is heard more often.

This was something we expected all along and hence our ‘bloglaw’ development. It did not take long to work out that if we tried to get companies to open up and let their employees communicate on their behalf (as it should be in the first place), the concern will be that of control of legal implications and reputation. Our position so far is that the benefits of blogging far outweight the risks, which although there, are also managable. Forewarned, forarmed…

February 21, 2005
Monday
Your own personal Web butler
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Journalism • Syndication 
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The name is RSS, sir. Despite proliferation of RSS feeds outside blogosphere, it is still difficult to explain to people what it is, which is probably one of the reasons most people regard it a geek thing. Well, here is a good description of RSS and its uses, aimed at journalists and written by Jonathan Dube for Poynter Online.

The Daily Blog?
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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For those who haven’t seen it, you simply must check out Jon Stewart’s Daily Show take on bloggers. In addition to hitting the nail on the head about credibility and journalism, using words like blogosphere without explanation, and providing a graphic illustration of the waves of influence of blogs and how a single permalinked post from one blog can eventually reach the mainstream offline press, it’s pretty freaking funny, too.

Now, what I want to know is, why doesn’t the Daily Show have a blog?

Link via Jeff Jarvis

February 14, 2005
Monday
“Welcome to the age of transparency”
Jackie Danicki • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism • Quotes 
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Jeff Jarvis has some wisdom to share with his fellow Big Media players about what the resignation of CNN chief Eason Jordan - and all of the other big stories pursued relentlessly by bloggers and all but ignored by mainstream media until someone resigns or is fired - means to them:

First, journalist-priests are no longer the gatekeepers in either direction—to authority and truth for the public, or from newsmakers to the people. Now the public can demand answers from the powerful and the powerful can avoid the press and talk to the public in new ways.

Second, news just speeded up and old media isn’t ready for this. We used to control the speed of news because we were the gatekeepers. No more. That is a big disconnect between big and citizens’ media: We want answers and we don’t want the press or the powerful to take their sweet time to give them to us.

Third, off-the-record is dead. Now that everyone has access to a press—the internet—anyone you talk to could be a Wolf Blitzer in sheep’s clothing.

Welcome to the age of transparency.

How long it will take old media - and business - to get up to speed with this new age is anybody’s guess. I suspect the ones who lag will find themselves left behind. Forgive me if I don’t shed too many tears for their demise, though. 

January 28, 2005
Friday
Blogging and journalism cont’d
Adriana Cronin-Lukas • Blogs & Blogging • Blogs in the media • Journalism 
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An interesting panel discussion as relayed by NevOn: The discussion was moderated by Dan Forbush and addressed the impact of blogs on their work, their general view on the value of blogs as a communication channel, and how best to promote their blogs. It's worth a read and here are a few juicy quotes:

Blogs are an incredible medium and will change the economic dynamics of whole sectors of industry. You don't know until you've tried it. Blogs occur naturally; you can't force people to read blogs. If you create value, people will find you and talk about you. It's an automatic feedback mechanism.

...

For a monthly print magazine, a blog offers great ways to share new and fresh content more frequently with readers. Involve and engage the readers. Help readers better connect with us and other readers. We have tremendous Google juice. Our site uses cascading style sheets which has given us high respect by web developers. Starting to see articles created for the blog make it into the print magazine. Open blog up to the readers, don't worry about editorial controls.

...

'Blogging' means different things to different people. The technology that enables it is the fascinating thing, and that is what will change things completely.






January 23, 2005
Sunday
To trust or not to trust
The Big Blog Company • Journalism 
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The last post about Jeff Jarvis’s blogging the Harvard conference on journalism credibility elicited a comment from a veteran journalist and a recent fellow-blogger, David Tebbutt. Among other things he mentions the need of his readers for someone they can trust to do the research for them....

They need to find someone they trust to do the research for them. I spend a goodly chunk of each month researching for my articles and columns. I even get paid a little bit for the privilege. As long as I am conscientious, and act in my readers’ best interests, I am saving each of them that amount of time. It’s a good deal whichever way you look at it.

My response was predictable…

It constantly puzzles me the assumption of journalists that somehow they have the monopoly on trust and credibility. I wonder where that comes from? Why should I trust what a journalist writes? Where does he get his crebility from? If from the paper he writes for, well, he goes with what the editor and proprietor want to say. If from his reputation and history of writing, then how is it different from a blogger? And how does he compare to a blogger whose credibility is created by linking to all the sources and giving his readers a chance to see for themselves, persitently and transparently.

Later on, I came across an article by David Berlind Can technology close journalism’s credibility gap? Crediblity gap! I mean, there is David Tebbutt asking about why one should trust a blogger whilst another journalist, David Berlind, is conducting experiments to find out if the very technology used by bloggers and podcasting can help to recover credibility for journalism… Don’t you just love internet? wink

Between these [Rathergate] and other big media gaffs, the public has grown increasingly disenchanted with the media establishment, and is turning to other sources of information such as independent bloggers. Blog publishing has given rise to several questions.  Among them, what’s the difference between a blogger and a journalist? Answer:  None.  Dan Gillmor was a journalist for the San Jose Mercury News.  Today, he’s a blogger for his own operation on Grassroots Journalism.  Now that he has parted ranks with the traditional media, should he also be stripped of his press credentials?  Would trading in their New York Times credentials for Blogger.com accounts be all it takes to disqualify columnists William Safire or Maureen Dowd as journalists?  The integrity of Gillmor, Safire, and Dowd have nothing to do with the frame their words appear in, the frequency with which they publish, the length of their musings, or the brand whose flag flies above their headlines.

His questions is:

What role can and should technology play in contributing to transparency--full disclosure--in the media? After all, given that it’s been such an enabler to the revolution in journalism, shouldn’t it also be a driving force in integrity as well?

By providing the uncensored, unedited raw data used to assemble a news story, opinion piece, or blog entry, the problems of misquoting, quote truncation, placing quotes out of order to arrive at an unintended meaning, quoting out of context, or manipulating interviews in the interests of a particular agenda could go away.

May he be right but just as a newspaper does not make a journalist, perhaps blogging and other technology does not make for a transparent reporting. What blogging does, however, is offers those who crave transparency an alternative to the one-way communication of old style journalism.

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