I’m listening

I was at the WeMedia conference where Suw was an online curator. Our friend Kevin Marks thought her role was, “pointing out the old media dinosaurs in the museum”.

As Ian Forrester points out, my position here is pretty tricky and slightly dangerous. As I have said, I work for the BBC. I am on the BBC’s blog steering committee as one of the ‘bloggers’ who doesn’t represent one of the major divisions in the corporation. I don’t say that to say, look at how important I am. This is about telling you where I’m coming from. Transparency, which as Dan Gillmor told some folks at an internal BBC briefing, journalists need to do more often.

I’m also a journalist and have been in one way or another for more than 10 years now. I think that journalism is important in a Jeffersonian sense of the functioning of a democracy, but I don’t confuse the importance of what I do with any outsized sense of self-importance.

Dan said that while he wasn’t at WeMedia last Wednesday that his impression was that it was: “Journalists vs. Bloggers conversation No. 7396”. I’m going to stick my professional neck out and say that is the impression I also got from a lot of participants, including Rebecca MacKinnon and Dorian Benkoil, here at Corante.

Bloggers are bored with this false dichotomy, and as for this journalist, I am too. There are lots of opportunities for colloboration, and as for the bloggers that I know and work with, I’ve never found bloggers to be bullies. I found that my relationship with bloggers, citizen journalists and DIY, participatory media folk of all stripes is just like any relationship: Treat people with respect and professionalism and you get the same back in spades.

4 thoughts on “I’m listening

  1. I addressed this issue to the best of my ability based on the World Have Your Say broadcast and here is what I came up with.

    “Mi mi mi mi…”

    From http://www.chrisabraham.com/2006/05/is_there_a_wide.php

    ‘The perceived “widening of the gap” [between MSM and bloggers] has to do with the defensiveness — the fear — that is obvious to me from comments like, “I am a reporter, journalist, broadcaster, and I resent your saying that I don’t have passion for what I do.” That is a comment made out of fear: aggressive and defensive.

    Yes, that man might be passionate about his job and the “noble” profession of being a pedigreed journalist-of-stature (and should be above these comments), and he might be passionate about his beat, but he is also able to get axed, made redundant, and is beholden (more than he may realize) to his six-figure lifestyle and sensibilities.

    Profit motive versus passion motive. Bloggers (or citizen journalists) who are not paid completely through passion and have other masters (or a passing interest) never last very long. Of the 50 million bloggers world-wide, fewer than 100 are “essential reading” and fewer than 500 “influence the influencers.” in a real way every day. Many more — but only thousands — bubble up through those influential 100/500 blogs.

    RSS syndicated feeds and the decontextualization of these “news stories” further blurs the line.’

    And, http://www.chrisabraham.com/2006/05/how_can_main_st.php:

    ‘The two sides [MSM and bloggers] will not collaborate. There will — and should — constantly be a dynamic tension.

    The Main Stream Media (MSM) is now universally “fact checked” in much the same as the “New Yorker” is. Called Fisking in the blog world, the job of blogs (and citizen journalists) is partially to keep the MSM honest, accountable, and to premasticate source reporting into a medium (regurgitation, mush, gruel, mash AKA analysis, opinion, pattern recognition) that a readership (fanbase) considers important.

    And this is where MSM lacks: there is a very condescending noblesse oblige — an inheritance — that reportership insists on forcing down our throats: the news the Main Stream Media considers important and we “need to read” — their civic duty — versus the news we consider important and choose to read.

    We have that choice now and we never had it before. It is no longer a civics lesson and the Times and the Journal and the Post are no longer at the head of the room with the God-given responsibility of informing the Mother Culture. The influence, the message, and the medium is no longer perceived pure.

    There have been too many opportunities for the curious citizen to “follow the money,” to see that the Media Empire has no clothes, and to have a light bulb go off that I, Chris Abraham, blogger and curious bugger, now have cheap and plentiful tools allowing me to participate in the this cultural conversation in the way that I want to. With closer to equal footing with the MSM than I have ever had, and truth-be-known, we bloggers exert a disproportionately large influence on society.

    And MSM is nervous and playing catch-up.’

    And I don’t even know if I did a very good job of addressing this.

  2. I also listened to the BBC WS “Have your Say” and was disappointed that it dissolved into a discussion of whether foreign listeners trusted the BBC (surprise, surprise, BBC listeners did). The survey published at the conference was a complete joke….there are millions of sites making up the Internet. Some I would trust with my life. The majority I take with a pinch of salt.

  3. Bloggers: opportunity or threat?

    Link: I’m listening Dan (Gillmor) said that while he wasn’t at WeMedia last Wednesday that his impression was that it was: “Journalists vs. Bloggers conversation No. 7396”. I’m going to stick my professional neck out and say that is the

  4. Yeah Jonathan,

    There were plenty of people including Suw and Ben Metcalfe, a BBC employee…for another month at least, who made the point that survey was flawed. Lies, damn lies, statistics and even worse, horribly flawed methodology.

    A good analogy would be: Do you trust infomercials on TV for your news?

    Of course not

    However, do you trust (insert favourite news programme here) for your news?

    And as Ben pointed out, there are gaming bloggers he trusts implicitly to write about games but wouldn’t expect, nor would he trust to write about British politics.

    But the structure of the conference never allowed us to explore those issues or interrogate a poorly worded meta-poll across vastly differing media markets. Any professional who follows media would never compare Egypt or Indonesia to the UK or the US. I wouldn’t even compare the UK to the US. Meta-polls are useful for some things but not for something like this.

    Thanks for the comments Chris and Jonathan,

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