'In the age of blogs and connectivity, there can be no more cold wars'.
When exactly did reading news become an altruistic gesture?

Who would you rather marry: a blogger or a journalist?

I was going to say that if how journalists and bloggers treat information is anything to go by, I'd much rather marry a blogger than a journalist.


Because in this respect, journalists are conditioned to be the worst control-freaks imaginable: the kind of person who'd lock you up in a cup board and only let you out on his terms in a context where he could take all the credit for any positive attributes you may possess (yes, I know she looks great and talks sense, but that's all down to my efforts: just like Elisa DooLittle would be nowhere without her Professor Higgins, this chick would be nowhere without me).



Detail from one of my photos from a friend's wedding


Obviously, quite the opposite to how bloggers treat information, sharing it generously with anyone who will listen, often allowing it room to stand on its own without any editing, live free and all of that. The catch of course, is that if you translate this to a romantic relationship, you'd end up living in some kind of hippie commune, wouldn't you?


But if you consider how journalists are trained to treat information: how they're encouraged to walk over dead bodies to get exclusives; rip off other journalists' exclusives at the first chance; how journalists are taught they don't have friends, only contacts etc, it is rather ... eh...dehumanising, isn't it?  


I have certainly stopped talking to journalists I don't know who call me for 'background' advice on the basis of issues I write about on my blog, because experience has taught me that it's likely to be a one-end street: bloggers always credit, with journalists it gets all political and it's much more likely you'll be left feeling ripped off. Now, a journalist might think here "how stupid to share information in the first place", but I'm also a blogger, hence I have conflicting inclinations: to share or not to share?


So how come I started thinking about this? Well, I read this terrible example of the journalistic epistemology at work, and I found myself wondering why I'm doing my best to spread knowledge of the wonders of social media and how to use it to your advantage. I mean, only yesterday I was giving a workshop on this, and when I came out of it I read this, and I thought: oh, dear... :


...Do not tell your journalism colleagues about Twitter! Keep it as your own secret tool.

When I first came to China as a foreign correspondent, I worked for a Dutch transportation newspaper. Later, when the Internet became available in China in the late 1990s, I found I could cover all of Asia for this paper without leaving my office.


When I paid my employer a courtesy visit at their offices in Rotterdam, I told them about the emergence of the Internet. They proudly proclaimed that they had been able, with the help of the trade union, to keep the Internet out of the editorial process. The Internet was no tool for journalists, they claimed.


I knew enough to shut up and kept covering (with the help of the Internet) Asian logistics for another two years -- until editorial resistance against the Internet failed. It took them a few months to learn that that what I did from Shanghai, they could now do just as well from Rotterdam. That spelled the unavoidable end of this gig -- but because I kept my mouth shut, it lasted much longer than I'd expected.


So instead of seeing journalistic conservatism about online media as a problem, try viewing it as your competitive edge...


There are still many journalists who live in the land of scarcity, where information is something to be controlled, unaware that 99% of the time it's like water and many others are drinking from the same trough.

Hopefully these types of journalist will be replaced by those who value the connections, networks and transparency readers already insist upon.


The one with the money, perhaps.

I *knew* there was a good reason I'm not married to a journalist.


And good luck to those journalists who want to keep Twitter a secret. Pah.

[waving] Hi, Craig!

Craig: good points

Matt: and the one with the money is often the journalist, I guess, even though journalism tend to be badly paid if u don't work for a national paper. But consider this: how much of your freedom would you sacrifice for financial safety? If I'm really honest, I've come close to being a kept woman once or twice, didn't suit me very well, and in both cases meant a very possessive partner was part of the deal. I know I'm getting all anecdotal, but money in itself is rarely a sufficient or good enough reason to take the one over the other:-)

Becky: I don't think... well, actually I've dated a former journalist, but I can think of more than one good reason not to date a journalist:-)

I've never dated any journalists, and am now married to a scientist…

Interestingly, scientific publication is predicated on full attribution, so perhaps there's more synergy between scientists and bloggers than one might think.

Why choose? I married a journalist who's also a blogger. He, for his part, got a blogger who's also a journalist. ;-)

No, indeed: why choose:-) Since I'm in a rather busy news week (on news duty roughly every other week) I'm in scatterbrain mode and can't really remember how I came up with that marriage/dating metaphor, but think it had something to do with all the talk of marriage and dating in the wake of Metro and Schibsted's Swedish freesheet "merger".

However, the deeper issue here has been playing on my mind for a while: as Adam put it over at friendfeed - 'journalists are control freaks' (or trained to be, when it comes to how they treat information). An editor of a national news site told me recently that this was why he found it so hard to get his journalists to link to their sources - it went against their inclination/training/ they were uncomfortable even just linking to public surveys they wrote about (only have his words for it, CMS could have something to do with it, but he put his news site's failure to utilise the social web more down to this).

For my own part: as a blogger my first inclination is to share the brilliant news and tools when I stumble across them. As a journalist I can't: I first have to write the more pressing stories, and when I find time to cover that brilliant discovery, get it vetted, approved and published, granted, of course, the CMS is on our side that day...

Er ... am a journalist and a blogger, and each do different things. Trying to say one is better than the other is rather silly.

I want my news from a journalist (because it will be checked) and opinion, sentiment ('colour') from a blogger (because it doesn't need to be checked).

Where's the controversy in that? And why the need to insult journalists and journalism? Unnecessary.

>I want my news from a journalist (because it will be checked) and opinion, sentiment ('colour') from a blogger (because it doesn't need to be checked).

>Where's the controversy in that?

The controversy is because that is just a pair of stereotypes, and neither of them are accuratė.

One of the biggest sources of errors for bloggers in my experience is quoting newspapers without fact-checking it themselves. Cases I would highlight are:

a) The Daily Mail (obviously) and sometimes the Indy (which has mixing news and opinion as part of its pitch) and

b) "Facts" quoted by columnists in the broadsheets.

I'm highly reluctant to link to either of these without a proper corroboration.

I'd also say that the press hasn't got to grips with the diversity of blogs (and vice-versa?). Each blog is a separate little publisher with their own approach and standards - and need to be treated as such.

Any statement about "bloggers" is inevitably going to be just as inaccurate in parts as any statement about "journalists".

Here's a "landslide blog": hardly "unchecked opinion" - more "a source of authoritative interpretation":




That last comment was sharper in tone than I intended - no offence intended, but I think it is an important point.


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