Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

On writing becomes "on journalism"

Posted on | August 23, 2007 | No Comments

The last two posts about writing have gotten very insightful comments but moved the conversation from writing to journalism. There’s clearly a concern, at least among the over-38 crowd, that this medium we’re playing in here can be a bit of a bother, at least if you’re looking for some good old fashioned B.S. detection in your info diet.
My old colleague Kerri Hicks weighs in passionately on the topic. (Reminds me of the rather lengthy dialogue we’d engage in on deadline night at PBN!) So “Am I a Journalist?” Of course. Most bloggers are in the very generic sense of the word…someone who keeps a journal. But if we’re looking for the more contemporary definition of the word, someone who’s paid to report about things as impartially as possible, then more often than not, no. In the classic sense, that type of journalism is still only happening online from traditional old line media outlets, who, god bless ’em, are getting the crap kicked out of them right now. The best blogs (most popular) do a very valuable service, but it ain’t journalism. The Om Maliks and Michael Arringtons of the world are on top of their sectors but they don’t spend a day on a topic to research it, talk to a bunch of different folks with different view points and try to come up with a take on the subject. It’s their take. And it’s valid but it’s only their take. They get interesting interviews but they let those people speak their piece and move on.
Mainstream media is so stuck between a rock (collapsing revenue model) and a hard place (“New-new Journalism” online) it doesn’t know which way to go, so it’s losing all its classic journalism instincts. And readers are fleeing…into the desert. And they’re not happy.
Let’s all take a swig from our glasses and promise to live by (and read people who live by) the old saying: “If your mama sez she loves you, check it out.”

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No Responses to “On writing becomes "on journalism"”

  1. Kerri
    August 24th, 2007 @ 5:34 am

    I’m not old. And you’ll always be older than me. 🙂

  2. Loring
    August 24th, 2007 @ 8:01 am

    Kerri’s comments that this is an issue of semantics reminded me of the Spring 2007 World Policy Journal, a special issue on “What is terrorism, anyway?” Many of the essays were choice, but Bard College’s military historian Caleb Carr raised the most hackles when he said, paraphrased, that any person, group or nation-state that targets civilians as a means of raising attention is a terrorist. That makes virtually all of us terrorists, which was Carr’s point. A true war on terror would become so vast, it would target a significant percentage of the human race. So the semantical games we play amount to, “terrorists are the ones we don’t like – today.”
    Bringing us back to Skube at the LA Times. Non-j bloggers are the ones we don’t like today. On one level, I agree with Brian on Om and Michael, but on the other, Web journalism places demands on instant rewrites. GigaOm and Techcrunch at least give us a veneer of serious analysis that is not there on the gossip blogs. A new model of journalism will arise in the next couple years, with a segment of the public paying for analysis that demands (1) no celebrities, (2) some third-party commentary to move beyond personal opinion, (3) a concentration on the elements of the story that have the most long-term relevance to the readers, meaning lots of health-care and war/peace issues, and no discussion of underwear or sex scandals, (4) no wanton slavery to sports icons or objects of desire like iPhones. Then, we’ll have to find a dedicated-patron model of an audience that wants its news Economist-style, because the rest of the public will simply click on Lindsay Lohan’s sentencing first. Always eat candy before your vegetables. And always remember, a “non-journalist worthless blogger” is whomever pisses off Apple executives or LA Times management this week.

  3. heidi
    August 24th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    The color scheme is evolving nicely.

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