Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bloggers Vs Journalists: Part Deux

Want to know just how much traditional journalists hate both new media and the people who are responsible for it? Check out this fantastic play-by-play story of a Delaware County Times writer (Journalist) who targets the efforts of blogger (@ThePhillyPhans) who he says is spreading rumors.

Now, it is important that I disclose I worked as a print news reporter for more than a dozen years and I currently make my living as a professional blogger and social media manager, so I straddle the fence.

What I enjoyed most about the way Geoffrey Detweiler broke down this entire situation was how he provided screen shots, actual Tweets and Posts as evidence for every point he makes. Clearly Detweiler is right when says that the sports writer Matt Smith seems to be making a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to some his claims. It also appears clear to me that Smith is suffering from sour grapes, taking umbrage against new media providers for some personal reason rather than de to any singular or specific offense.

There certainly is no love lost between traditional journalists and new media. I worked in a news room as social media began, expanded and eventually led to serious declines in advertising revenue as businesses found other, much more effective ways of getting their messages out.

What I find interesting is the way Smith chides the bloggers for doing what news reporters do all the time: Reporting rumors, and identifying them as rumors.
Specifically:
"@ThePhillyPhans, an account run by, well, Phillies fans, published on Facebook and Twitter that a “source” said Wright would be wearing red pinstripes “very, very soon.” The message spread through the Twittosphere like wildfire."

(Click here to read Smith's entire article.)

As a reporter I can tell you, it is not uncommon to publish a rumor simply as a way of saying "Hey, there's a rumor going around that says,,,blah, blah, blah." The problem only arises in you try to turn that rumor into fact without attribution. A rumor in and of itself is not a bad thing, only how it is used and whether or not someone tries to pass it off as fact.

This obvious mistake on Smith's part didn't escape Detweiler, either. Using the actual Tweets referenced by Smith Detweiler tears his argument to pieces:

"Right there, in the tweet Mr. Smith sarcastically referred to as a "report", is the phrase "no actual report". Did Mr. Smith read the sentence that he's so upset about, or he is taking a bit of journalistic license here?"

(Click here to read all of Detweiler's article.)

The fact is, traditional forms of media are slowly being replaced by new forms. The way hand written books were replaced by the printing press; cut-and-paste systems were replaced with desktop publishing and the telephone replaced the telegraph and is itself being replaced by the text.

If you don't like new technology, fine. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But to try and drag down someone else's work when it is clearly an example of the type of work you yourself engage in every day, well, that seems more than a little childish to me.

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