Richard’s post inspired Chris Brogan to ask tonight on Twitter, “Do you make much of the difference between bloggers and journalists? http://tinyurl.com/2dv5xw” This is an area I feel particularly passionate about and felt compelled to blog about tonight.
You see, I matured professionally surrounded by ace journalists in the 90s. My journalist “friends” were all reporters at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Newsweek, USAToday, etc. All mainstream print media. For the longest time, I subscribed to the Columbia Journalism Review. Because I was a writer myself, I had a healthy respect for the tenets of journalism, although I had never been fortunate enough to have been schooled properly in journalism fundamentals.
Technically, I started blogging in 1999 by posting daily tidbits and scoops on the tech sector I was tracking. My private access “blog” was widely read by financial analysts, execs, and industry insiders. I remember having a long lunch conversation with a veteran New York Times reporter and friend about how the Internet was going to turn his world upside down. We had a great chat that day; I will never forget it. I told him he couldn’t beat me on “fast” or “free.” But, the 1.0 Internet was an arrogant era; I would have a much different conversation with him today.
A few months ago I was IM-chatting with my friend Anne Zelenka about this blogger-journalist conundrum. Ironically, I had mentioned to her that Jeff Jarvis, the blogger, is self-described as an “American journalist” on Wikipedia, but even Richard would agree (I hope) that once a journalist becomes part of a story, it sort of invalidates their objectivity and credibility as Jarvis did with the Dell Hell spectacle. So, Jarvis is a blogger, but not a journalist, IMO. As we were chatting, Anne told me she had published a scoop for GigaOm on the Teqlo demise, but felt sad all day when one of the founders commented on the story.
Reporting the news (with its instantaneous results) is changing our worldview overnight, but I firmly believe we need both bloggers and journalists to keep us informed. In short, the difference between bloggers and journalists is, well, vanity as far as I can see. You won’t find many journalists checking their stats on tweeterboard or racking up friends on Facebook. They’re comfortable to be invisible, maybe a little surly. But mon Dieu! We need them more now than we ever have. Who is going to get to the truth of the greatest issues of our day, stripped of ego, self-aggrandizement and promotion?