Blogging journalists, and other oxymorons

Media Guardian has just published my piece on the problems posed when professional journalists enter the blogosphere. Extract:

Unlike amateur bloggers who can rant, comment, express bizarre points of view or promote their latest acquisitions and obsessions with no concern for conflict of interest or even internal consistency, we are not mere citizens in the world of the blog and the MySpace profile, and it is about time we stopped trying to act as if we ever were.

Head to their site for comments… see if you can do better than ‘what pretentious, self-important nonsense’ 🙂

Update: Jeff Jarvis has picked up on the piece, but seems to see it as an attack on the unwashed bloggers rather than a warning to my fellow hacks.

Another update [June 4]. The discussion over at BuzzMachine contines, and I’ve just added this, which may help clarify things.

I think Steve makes a really useful point when he points out that ‘we all have reputations, our associations, our jobs’, and mentions 10th graders on MySpace. This discussion – and those taking place elsewhere – is helping me greatly as I try to clarify my thinking on this issue [which, of course, supports Jeff’s main argument, but I’m happy to do that].  It is about reputation, and about whether the things one writes in one place can be seen as separate from things written elsewhere.

My main contention is that once you’re a paid journalist – which I am – then everything that is not private becomes part of the corpus of your writing. Not finished product – I’m with Jeff on that one too, that the articles we now write are the zeroth draft of history not the first, and that they cannot be considered closed or final any more – but part of our output.  Because of that we can’t apply different standards to ‘journalism’ and ‘personal blogging’ because they occupy the same space, one that those who want to comment and criticise have access to.

This applies to a greater or lesser degree to every blogger, and over time, as blogging becomes part of the general conversation, it will apply to more people.  So those who are currently blogging about topics that seem to have nothing to do with work, or the teenagers writing about their drug experiences, should observe the position we professional journalists find ourselves in and realise it will apply to them in future.

It doesn’t mean that we should stay away from blogging, or that what we produce is somehow ‘better’ or more objective. It means we will be judged by it in ways that, at least for the moment, other bloggers aren’t. If we embrace this new world maybe we can use some of the skills we have to provide a good example to those who are speaking online for the first time, but that would take a degree of humility and openness to criticism that few of my colleagues seem able to demonstrate.

That’s what I call serendipity

I wrote a piece about the ways that the Web encourages rather than destroys serendipity, and it has attracted some attention online. So this morning when I discovered that has a new blog search engine [thanks, Mike] I used it to see what discussion there had been recently about my piece.

And this is what i found…


Case proven, I think 🙂