Hacks, flacks and new media

A call from my old pal Tom Johnston, who says he regularly reads my blog but never leaves a comment (note to Tom enter the blogosphere and leave a thought, critism or graffitti), to tell me that he's read a piece in Simon Hoggart's column in The Guardian about Debbie Weil who has written a book about corporate blogging.

You can check it out at Weil and it seems like good solid advice, laying down the rules on what it appropriate in blogging and rather re-assuring for me, given that I have just written something similar for Revolution magazine. But hey ho - I reckon that in the next six months the book might be out of date... and good luck to her as I suspect she can make a lot of money on the second edition.

However, given that Hoggart was blinging up his friend I was a bit surprised by his sign off about blogs being for one reader - ie the blogger.

I was going to write about this later but my experience at a recent event at the CIPR backed up Hoggart's prejudice - and I do believe that journalists are running scared of the whole blogging proposition (I've got loads to say on this so wait for later posts... as I simply do not have the time to put it down in html at the present time.) Also I'm trying to listen to Django Reinhardt covers on YouTube and keep flipping over to see the chord structures (sad I know) which makes this post very confusing - for me at least - are you still with me?

Anyway, the same point about bloggers was made by another print journalist turned Web 2.0 evangilist - Guy Ruddle from The Daily Telegraph (a newspaper, which seems to me to be clutching at straws at the moment by embracing new media given their circulation). He was part of a panel at a recent CIPR event I attended in London and was most fulsome in his views.

I didn't take shorthand notes (I can still do about 30 words a minute at a push) but he argued that "citizen journalism" - his phrase - was a bad thing because they were not trained journalists or objective (like Simon Heffer I suppose!) - but surely this is how journalism began? It was about people with a cause who issued pamphlets in the 16th, 17th and 18th century - who probably didn't call themselves journalists at all. He cited the bombing in London on 07/07 as an example of the bad blogging that went on. Well basically he slagged us bloggers all off.

However, what was heartening was to hear Paul Brannan from the BBC News Website offer a re-joinder to this rather old media view. He said that the posts, texts, pictures and emails sent to the BBC on 07/07 immeasurable enriched the content of the newsgathering operation on that day - remember the webcams coming up from the Underground? Paul is obvisouly excited about the potential of Web 2.0 and as a license payer I tip my hat to him.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ian, Guy Ruddle here.

You are misrepresenting me a bit.

First of all I'm not "another print journalist turned web 2.0 evangelist", I am a former broadcast journalist helping The Daily Telegraph become a multi-media provider of news. By the way, one man's 'clutching at straws' is another man's embracing new media.

But the main point is that I neither said citizen journalism (not my term) was a bad thing nor used 07/07 as an example. Paul Brannan was absolutely right when he said citizen journalism had enriched the coverage of 07/07. My point was that it still needs to be filtered through the discipline of professional journalism if it is to be trusted.

My example was the shooting of that poor Brazilian boy at Stockwell tube station. On the day there were loads of bits of eye witness stuff about him jumping barriers, running on to the train, etc all of which turned out to be cobblers. Citizen journalists reported it all as fact, people like the BBC talked about unconfirmed reports.

That's the difference.

I think the more people there are investigating and reporting on the world the better. But as the volume of information grows out of all proportion wouldn't you like to have someone you can trust make sense of it for you?

It doesn't have to be Simon Heffer, or even the rest of the Telegraph. But it might be nice to know that someone has taken notes or checked with a second source etc.


Ian Green said...

Simon Heffer? God! Please no!

Ian Green said...

Mea cupla on print versus broadcast - point taken you're a broadcaster.
I agree I should have made that point clear on several points. I also agree that there is a lot of white noise out there in the blogosphere (dread phrase!) but there is some genuine nuggets of insight - often by journalists who have picked up on the whole Web 2.0 schtick and non-journalists too.
If you check out Edleman's recent research on this, the most visited websites are those hosted by "citizen journalists". As a hack I find this interesting although I am not sure what it means.


PS - we take the DT eveyday along with the Guardian, FT, Times, Express, Independent, Mail, Barnsley Chronicle and Wharfedale Gazette