And when will there be a museum of blogging?

I suppose it’s appropriate that we had a meeting about the future of media with old media and new, big media and small, mass media and personal at the Museum of Television & Radio’s Media Center. The big guys aren’t history yet. But I suppose they could be.

The good folks at MT&R wanted a session on the intersection of blogging and mainstream news and I got to be a co-convener, helping bring more good folks from the blogging world together with the center’s list of big-media people, all of whom are working at the intersection: Debbie Galant of Baristanet, Jay Rosen of Pressthink, Steve Baker of Business Week, Terry Heaton of Donata and Nashville is Talking fame, Bill Grueskin of WSJ.com, Dan Gillmor of Bayosphere, David Weinberger of Joho and more, Susan Crawford of the amazing mind, Bill Gannon of Yahoo, Jon Klein of pajama fame and CNN, Rick Kaplan of MSNBC, Martin Nisenholtz of the NY Times, Alisa Miller of Public Radio International, Tim Porter of First Draft, Steve Shepard of CUNY, Kinsey Wilson of USAToday.com, Vaugn Ververs of CBS’ Public Eye, Andrew Heyward of CBS News, Paul Steiger of the Wall Street Journal, Bill Grueskin of WSJ.com, Steve Shepard of CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Merrill Brown as moderator. A fun and fascinating bunch. Some random notes, first from others, then from me:

: Paul Steiger, managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, summarized the event. Excerpts of my transcription:

The world has really, really changed and will keep changing and we in mainstream media may not like it but it’s a fact and we have to embrace it or we will die.

People, readers, viewers are no longer satisfied with a small number of omniscient narrators. The toothpaste is out of hte tube. They want to be hears as well as be talked to and they want to hear each other as well as talk to us…

[On the blogosphere:] I think I’ve heard that the magic of this revolution is that it allows people to reach each other and it allows people to learn from and teach each other. It also allows people to mobilize together….

At the same time… many people will do this because it’s fun, because it feels empowering…. Some of those folks will decide they really want to do this and will find ways to get paid… They will develop business models…

How can we [mainstream media] respond and embrace and take advantage of this? First of all, the way to do it is to approach with what we do well: [Taking Susan Crawford’s illustrations] which is to aggregate, which is to illustrate or to order…

And then there are still two skill sets that are in the mainstream media and not in the general blogosphere, which is the general notion of reporting; the ordinary citizen is not a qualified reporter… and then mechanisms for verifying — those annoying habits of editors, w hich get in the way of reporters blooming free…

I had to send a note to my colleagues the other day to remind them that blogs in specific industries have become every bit as important as trade publications … and if you fail to credit one of them it’s just as bad as failing to credit another print publication. [At this moment, the bloggers looked at each other and mouthed the word “Rafat”.]

Whatever the business model, in order to keep getting paid, people in the blogosphere or traditional media would need to do at least one of two things very well… either provide uniquely broad credibility, which will still have value even in this revolutionary world, or uniquely exciting argument… You have to at least do one of them or you’re not going to get paid.

: Go read Susan Crawford’s post to get the perspective of a nonmedia person who was amazed at the bubble we media people live in:

The print guys are very proud of their priesthood, and the culture of journalism is just about the strongest professional bond I’ve ever seen. The emotional energy that filled the room when the print guys started decrying the “potentially deadly” inaccuracy of bloggers was remarkable. We Are The Truth, they seemed to think — We Have Standards. Those bloggers, they’re just typing. We do so much more.

That’s the part — the pride — that made me worry about beloved print journalism. It seemed like a hallmark of descent. We were the best, we were the truest, and even though the blood is running thin and our chins are weaker and our shoulders are rounder, we come from the finest stock. (Speaking of stock: not a diverse group.) I’m familiar with this kind of thinking — I myself am a lawyer and a WASP, two groups that have priesthoods and enormous pride. And are no longer what they used to be….

Under its surface, this well-dressed roundtable discussion (complete with waiters) was really about a future that none of us can hope to control.

: More from the participants: Weinberger thinks the were usual suspects were there. I’ll plead guilty but I’ll argue that Galant, Porter, Heaton, Crawford, and Baker are not. (Later: David agrees.) They’re doing real things so they soon will be. David also says: “The bloggers didn’t have to spend half the morning explaining that most bloggers aren’t journalists, that bloggers are in conversation, etc. Progress. There were still elements of hostility and misunderstanding, especially around the question of accuracy. But there is definitely progress…” Here’s Heaton’s take. Here’s Baker’s Here are Porter’s prep. And here’s Nora Ephron on another blogging blatherfest across town; Garrick Utley went to both and said MT&R’s was better. Both events, as all the posts above note, were too male and too white.

: Jay Rosen’s cogent notes include:

* Still, it was agreed: Big Media does not know how to innovate. What capacity for product development do news organizations show? Zip. How are they on nurturing innovation? Terrible. Is there an entreprenurial spirit in newsrooms? No. Do smart young people ever come in and overturn everything? Never. Do these firms attract designers and geeks who are gifted with technology? They don’t, because they don’t do anything challenging enough. They don’t innovate, or pay well. So they can’t compete.

* In competing on the Web, the bloggers do not alarm big media. It’s people like Bill Gannon. Yahoo worries them, with its surging revenues, huge traffic flow, and recent moves in news and editorial that involve original content. The portals attract talent, and with their billions they can fund innovation, and roll out new products. This capacity dwarfs what the old line media companies can do, even if everyone on the editorial staff became a Webbie overnight.

: Now my disjointed notes….

: The tone has changed. There is no dismissive huffing from the big guys about blogs. There is still that argument about who’s trustworthy (see the note here). Old hat. But there is an acknowledgment that the change is gigantic and has only begun.

: Heyward surprised and impressed me when he talked about the weaknesses of mainstream media today:
* “The breakdown of our formulas.” He said the presentation must become more authentic, more natural.
* “The illusion of omniscience. A lot of television news is based around the notion that there is one truth the reporter gets to. The public has to accept the notion of ambiguity… and we have to be bold enough to acknowledge that there is more than one answer.”
* “The introduction of a point of view… The notion of objectivity in mainstream news needs to be reexamined.”

That, I believe, was a big moment, reflecting a cultural change in meanstream news.

Jay says: “This was probably the most significant surprise of the meeting: an actual shift in press think. At the top, no less.”

: One of the editors said that one roole for big media is to be a smart aggregator: if people are already in a community, he said, then they’ll find each other. But for those who have not found each other yet, we can help.

: Jay Rosen: “There is not a law of God that there needs to be a business modl for everything. There may not be a business model for the internet. The internet may just be part of life.”

He says that big media saw the internet come along and used it to repurpose their content. Bloggers came along and instead asked what the web can do. So they have taught jouranalists about links, the blogosphere, nonduplication of effort (an important and underappreciated lesson). The bloggers did this “because they were of the web, not on the web.”

: More Jay on how journalism got that way: “Journalists do a lot of thins simply because they have to for their production routines, not because it’s a good idea, not because it’s necessarily sound but because they have to meet deadlines… Your production routines you begin to mistake as the nature of journalism.”

This is the prison of the medium. This is why it is vital that journalism has to break free of his media.

Jay continues: “Journalists do certain things because they know they are going to be criticized and they anticipate criticism and they need ways to deflect criticism…. The production miracle, which is what daily newspapers are called, worked and still works but is an intellectual disaster…

“Journalists believe in a certain heirarchy of goods: … information is a higher good than opinion; commentary is a derivative good. On the web, people don’t necessarily think that way.” Journalism prides itself on starting with the facts; sometimes people on the web start with opinion and get to the facts. They can end up at the same place.

: Various BMEs (big media execs) said that their greatest problem is not the will to change but the ability to force change through the alimentary canals of their giant companies. They complained about the lack of product development. And they complained about the difficulty of hiring technology talent.

: Terry Heaton wows the group with his accomplishments working with Young Broadcasting stations in Nashville and San Francisco: Inviting bloggers into the stations to listen and talk; training bloggers how to shoot better video, using “dumb” (automated) and “smart” (edited) aggregation of bloggers (see NashvilleIsTalking.com; and starting an ad network with the bloggers. These are all the steps I hoped I’d see Young take when I had lunch with Terry and their execs a year ago. I can’t believe that they’ve accomplished so much. If you want to see who’s leading in this space, go to Nashville.

: Terry said he asked vloggers whether they would pay a subscription fee to have access to stations’ video for remixing and they all said yes.

: Terry also says that media is the biggest issue in the country today but media is not covering media as an issue.

: Dan Gillmor says he fears that media execs will think it’s over already: We have a blog, we have citizen journalists, we’re done. Dan says we’re just at the beginning. He asks big media to surface the best we’re seeing from the community and do some projects with citizen journalists. He suggests that big media team up with the citizens on covering the reconstruction after Katrina because there is a lot of reporting to do.

: David Weinberger: “I think the revolution has happened… The big change has already happened… It turns out that we the audience are much more interesting to us than the news media are… I don’t mean disrespect. There’s good and bad in that because we’re not very good journalists.” (Don’t shoot at David. He was saying that the proportion of bloggers who want to do journalism is small.)

: Steve Baker of Businessweek says that “one of the best things a mainstream journalist can do is blog” because they get more information and change relationships. “If Ilost my job tomorrow, I’d be happy that at least I had a blog going, as a little bit of a rowboat.” He says that “more of us are going to be on our own with our own little brands.”

Dan Gillmor later urged the BMEs: “If there’s someone in your organization — a Steve Baker — let him try stuff.”

  • corvan

    Did any of you media mavens discuss getting your facts right? That probably ought to be a topic of conversation. The little people want to know.

  • http://cellar.org/iotd.php Undertoad

    “There is not a law of God that there needs to be a business modl for everything. There may not be a business model for the internet. The internet may just be part of life.”

    There is a business model for anything for which there is demand. One may not be able to see it.

    Five years ago there was no business model for what Google does. Google *created* their entire model. Before Google, search engines were trying to be portals, and complaining that people weren’t spending enough time at their site to make use of ads. The quality of search results was negligible because people studying business models noticed that a good search result would drive people immediately away from their money-making search site.

    Smart netters can SEE business models. Dumb MBAs and hacks simply can’t.

    TimesSelect is a loser, for example. I don’t need to wait a year to see how it doesn’t work out. But you can see how it would make a mint if only they followed the working model of fark.com. How it would fly: make people pay to see the op-eds IN ADVANCE. Give the payers 12 hours time to see this content before anyone else. Let them comment on it during that time. Let them find flaws in it during that time. Publish the comments, including the flaws. Let the commenters post their own links.

    The notion of taking the lead of someplace like fark.com, or somethingawful.com, or any similar populist content site, is abhorrent to the old school. Screw them. Kill all the MBAs and then we will move forward with ease.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    You know, the person in the room who probably could brought the freshest perspective was Debbie Galant, and it sounds like the boys were so busy listening to themselves that they never asked her anything.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Jenny:
    Debbie had plenty to say; that’s why she was there. But far more important than talk is action and Debbie (and Terry Heaton) are getting real things done.
    I chose not to quote her on the best thing she had to say so as not to ruin a relationship with a freelance gig unless I checked with her.
    There were plenty of smart things said that I did not quote. So shoot me: I didn’t just type, I listened.

  • Ravo

    So the emperors of big media sat around congratulating each other that only they are clothed in duds with the designer label “by Trustworthy”.

    Only the “little people” seem to realize THAT label left town long ago.

    The big media emperors exclaimed how they are looking forward to wearing capes created “by Ambiguity”. I suppose openly wearing “by Ambiguity” is preferable to not realizing you are now wearing “Lies by Agenda”, (the little people see how hideousness they look, even if the emperors cannot) which replaced “by Trustworthy” long ago.

    The little people also realize Ambiguity and Lies by Agenda work out of the same shop. If only Mr. Facts, who originally inspired the “Trustworthy” label could be found! Mr. Facts knows how to wear ambiguity and trustworthy at the same time.

  • penny

    The MSM and their “product” can’t implode fast enough. How news and journalism are going to be redefined via the internet can’t be defined exactly at this point but it is morphing out of their control and won’t be stopped.

    What’s going to kill print besides their predictably insipid and biased content is the revenue stream ending. Here’s a chilling thought for newspapers: there will be a day when classified ad revenues dry up. Craigslist is eating into that now.

    It is amusing to observe that like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic these arrogant defenders of their “product” refuse to examine content, the product at its core. It is what isn’t selling anymore. Too many journalists have been revealed as basically liars and too many stories are poorly written.

    As far as trained journalism skills(a joke), I’ll put this amateur blogger up(theBelmont Club) against almost any trained journalist in terms of style and analysis. His talent and integrity aren’t teachable. His success is the quality of his content. People gravitate to quality.

    Changing fonts, better graphics, and redecorating the news set aren’t going to save MSM.

  • Ravo

    Penny writes: talent and integrity aren’t teachable.

    A mouthful of wisdom.

    With the internet removing the barriers to accessibility that protected Big Media (who we see lacking the latter – integrity) from competition,….

    this rusty iron curtain is coming down.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Jeff, thanks for the clarification. I’m glad she had plenty to say. This idiotic gag rule thing leads to truncated reports, etc.

    I said this to Jay, and I’ll say it here and maybe you can clarify. Lots of talk about containers, not much about content. Do the BMEs think they are just going to put old wine into new bottles? It sounds as though the conversation is stuck there, at who has a better bottle shape.

    Which brings me to Debbie, because she is about content. Unlike most of the rest of the people there…note I say most, not all.

    Also, I think that there’s an opportunity for someone to round up what newspapers called the “specialty” beats and put experts in places where they can get better information to people in a conversational setting. Like having Larry Altman write a blog, or something.

    Meanwhile, Jeff I managed to swing a gig liveblogging at API’s WTM conference. I’m sorry you won’t be there.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    One other question, why no newspaper editors, like people from Tribune or KR? I get the sense that those guys are feeling the heat…

  • Rick

    I have a weird background. I’ve worked for an internet-only news organization, in radio, in print. And now I’m Managing Editor of a TV station web site. Besides running my own profitable web site on the side.

    My frustration level is to the point where I’m looking for another job, and with any luck, I’ll find someplace to work as innovative as some of the places referenced in the post. I am jealous of Terry Heaton’s success in ways I can’t even express.

    It drives me nuts to expend hundreds of hours of time trying to get some slightly innovative idea off the ground, only to have the local station/network get cold feet, or simply not understand the simplest ideas of this new age we’re participating in.

    The resistance to change in many larger media companies is still insanely large.

  • Larry Grant

    Where are the African Americans in this dialogue! Another example of JOURNALISTIC APARTEID.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    And young… and female… and Southern… and conservative… and liberal… and international… and social… and technical…. and …. newspaper…. and magazine…. and local…. and ….
    Of course, it was an imperfect and limited and too-small list and I bear responsbility.
    Various of us contributed to the list.
    Some people who were asked couldn’t come or had to cancel at the last minute.
    But my first priority was to find the folks — notably Debbie Gallant and Terry Heaton — who are demonstrating real work in this intersection (though Terry says it’s not an intersection) as well as a few of the philosopher-kings — notably Weinberger and Rosen — who could give the day perspective.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Oh, and Jenny, various were asked (e.g., the editor of The Tribune) but couldn’t come.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    You’re joking? Too busy? Doing what?

    You know, you might to consider telling a little bit about how these comes in to being, like what kind of people couldn’t come, and all. It really changes my thinking when I realize that there are people whose lunch in being eaten, maybe by blogs, and they’re too busy to come.

    Also, it seems that all the print folks sent their “digital” people, as though it’s been relegated to some small department and not part of the big picture.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Jenny: Well, putting out papers and staunching the flow of crises, eh?
    I learned watching here: When you ask the big guys and give them time to decide you then sometimes run out of time.
    Who knows what they had on that prevented them from coming. But, yes, it would have been good to have local paper people.

  • http://tampabaymedia.blogspot.com/ Jim Lamb

    My background is print — though I left that some time ago to make an honest living. The following graf caught my jaundiced eye:

    “Journalists believe in a certain hierarchy of goods: … information is a higher good than opinion; commentary is a derivative good. On the web, people don’t necessarily think that way.” Journalism prides itself on starting with the facts; sometimes people on the web start with opinion and get to the facts. They can end up at the same place.”

    I agree, though it’s a potentially messy process. Personally, I’d rather have a doctor who knows where my appendix is than one who (untrained) has an opinion of where it might be, and then starts poking around, bloodying me in the process. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be “either or.” There are bloggers, experts in a given field, who can get to facts much quicker than reporters who are generalists. To me, that is the real power and potential of the inter-networking of information and communication, the promise that can be (and often already is) fulfilled: People who know what they are talking about articulating (and trumping) the slick “talking heads” who are merely reading cue cards, or their electronic equivalent. That is the Martin Luther move here, as we nail our version of the Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the “virtual” Wittenberg Church.

    Who will start the list?

    1.
    2.
    3.
    4.
    …
    95.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Jim, what do journalists know? I mean, a doctor knows where your appendix is. So in the same vein, I ask, what is it that journalists know?

  • penny

    Jim, what do journalists know?

    JennyD, nothing. And the same question could be posed to teachers. What really is a degree in education? With that rather insipid and generalist designation are we to believe that teachers really have the core competency for math science, math, languages, etc?

    Today both teachers and journalists are nothing more than guilds – groups that put up barriers to entry most of the time formalized by a union – regardless of how dismal their performance. Their failure to reform reflects this.

    The best journalists had no formal training in “journalism school”(what hogwash!). The best teachers, you can bet, threw away the teacher’s manual.

    Jim, you’ve said a mouthful.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Ouch. Penny, I am getting a doctorate in education and public policy, and you are very wrong about teachers. I’ve also been a journalist.

    Teachers actually know a lot about the specific practices that will make them succeed in their profession. (Not all teachers, but many. And Ed Schools can and will do a much better job teaching them these professional practices.) But what does journalism school teach? What specialized practices do journalists know that are not common knowledge?

  • penny

    But what does journalism school teach? What specialized practices do journalists know that are not common knowledge?

    Nada. Talent and integrity aren’t teachable. After that, what is journalism school about except the standardization of style. And this is where talented honest bloggers have a real future.

    It’s all about garnering eyeballs in the final analysis. Talent and honesty will win in the level playing field that the internet has opened to all finally.

    An example, in my opinion: the NYT’s, boring and suspect. While this blogger and this blogger(only to name a few) are examples of raw talent that are better than the “trained” by many magnitudes. What makes it honest is that the audience participates/corrects facts directly. The MSM, like the Vatican and any closed system, can’t withstand that development.

  • penny

    Sorry, make it this site as my second example.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    penny – those sites are both commentators. Neither is a journalism site – they’re opinion sites. Both rely on extensive quotes from actual newspapers for the factual content. Neither demonstrates a knowledge of interviewing techniques, the normal standards of reportage, a knowledge of story construction, or the cultivation of unique and expert sources.

    This is not to denigrate their writing abilities, but neither are doing what working journalists do.

  • penny

    Neither demonstrates a knowledge of interviewing techniques, the normal standards of reportage, a knowledge of story construction, or the cultivation of unique and expert sources.

    All matters of style, my friend, further proving my point that journalism training is a waste.

    Of course those bloggers don’t have reporters on the ground. But, the MSM does and look at the garbage it spews with first hand accounts at their advantage.

    This is not to denigrate their writing abilities, but neither are doing what working journalists do.

    “Working journalists”?

    Carefully explain to me the qualitative difference with “working” journalists. Is it paycheck that makes the difference in your eyes? Commentary is journalism – yes or no?

  • Frankie

    I’ve been a silent blogger for several years now, and yes, in the beginning I trusted the printed word. As time passed, I realized what Greg Burton states. Case in point, because my family lives in Houston, and I in California, I chose to go straight to the source, and that was a blog chat happening off the Houston Chronicle website. There I found quite a few people blogging. Their reports during the night proved to be true, as friends echoed what they said. The following morning, we the bloggers, were able to identify other bloggers located in areas we had questions about, such as my brothers neighborhood in Clear Lake. I was able to get first hand input as to how my brothers area survived the storm. While MSM was able to send what reporters they had to particular areas, it was the blog I was on that gave me what I found to be the truth. Bloggers don’t have to be “reporters”, as we are all very human, and we tend to go out of our way to share first hand knowledge.

    Frankie
    Long Beach, CA

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    penny – I don’t consider commentary journalism, no. (I don’t consider “gonzo journalism” journalism, either). Wordreference.com defines it as “The profession of reporting or photographing or editing news stories for one of the media.” thefreedictionary.com first 3 definitions are

    1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.

    2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.

    3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.

    If the piece has more focus on what I believe is meant by what happened than on what happened, I don’t regard it as journalism

    Your mileage may vary, of course. I think blogs are good at commentary – in rare (but growing) circumstances, some of them are good at journalism.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Greg, here;s my problem. Interviewing techniques: lots and lots of other jobs know them, use them. Salesman, anthropologist, human resources. Nothing special about this skill…you can learn at a correspondence course online.

    Also, here’s an example of interviewing skill I once witnessed as a reporter: A chemical plant blew up in NJ. Two workers were killed. I was on the scene and so was someone from an NYC tabloid. The fire chief gave a press conference, noting the workers were killed violently. AFterward the tabloid reporter made a phone call, then came back and said asked this question: “Chief, can we say there were “Body Parts EVerywhere”? What do you suppose the next day’s headline was. Is that the technique taught in J-schools?

    What are the normal standards of reportage? After 15 years in the business, I can only guess. Never saw a list or guideliness, not anywhere I ever worked. (I missed J-school.) I never was called to a meeting to talk about a newspaper’s standard of reportage. So where were these standardes made explicit in the profession?

    Finally, we often didn’t present all the facts. We presented the facts that we thought were revelant. One rhetorician calls what we did “ordering the world so you can win.” For a story slotted for page one on hikes in gas taxes, we were told to find motorists and get their opinions. After interviewing a dozen, we phoned in. No one cared. We were instructed to keep interviewing until we found people who cared.

    Then there’s “context” which is a journalistic practice that’s completely driven by bias. What context does this story need to be understood? The AP runs a story about Condi Rice’s speech at Princeton. The only MSM reporter to go is from the AP who writes about how Rice is in the middle of a controversy over Iraq, over US treatment of Palestinians, etc. But only Iraq was mentioned in her speech. People blogging at the speech saw a very different sitation, one in which she answered questions well, and in depth, and that the situation was remotely confrontational.

    Which context is the correct one? If journalism is about direct presentation of the facts withlittle attempt at analysis or interpretation, then which report is more journalistic. (BTW

  • http://blessgodamerica.net anne winn

    There is one point about print media and blogging that must be addressed. Even if you allow that on line blogging is superior to what answers for print journalism now. Now do bloggers reach those with little or no access to the net?

  • corvan

    “We presented the facts we thought were relevant…” Actually that’s is a pretty standard practice with the press these days. Why? because like, political parties, to them shaping opinion is much more important than actually informing people.

  • Ravo

    Anne, how do they reach those with little or no access to the net?

    Huh?

    The same way I guess, that newsprint reached those without a quarter, or who couldn’t read.

  • Frankie

    So, I guess my observation doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

    No wonder, we the “bloggers” will always be better than something the media, or even you guys are considering.

    You put way to much thought into something true bloggers create for themselves.

    Good luck guys…

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Jenny – yeah, there is good journalism, and bad journalism. I’ve seen the same kinds of things from reporters – and worse – but not from all reporters by a long shot. Some people – and some publications – will push beyond any standards they claim regardless, but that’s bad journalism. Deciding that a story gets “x inches” on the front page before the reporting is done is, imo, bad journalism. Yes, it happens more often than it should – that doesn’t make it a good practice. I suspect that most knowledge about journalism is “implicit knowledge” – the kind you know but can’t put into words when you’re asked.

    I don’t think J-School is a necessity to be a journalist, btw. It’s a craft, not a profession. Standards are mostly a matter of setting a level that gives you pride in what you do. (I’m such an idealist, really). But today, as opposed to 20 years ago, you can go online and find out what some journalists or educators think should be standards at places like journalism.org or spj.org. You can check out the curricula from a variety of schools, and teach yourself some of the craft…. but most of it will be learned by doing, like most crafts. You’re right – there is nothing special about learning how to interview, or to fact check, or to do research, or to network. There’s nothing special in learning to write a simple declarative sentence or a coherent paragraph. But you need all those simple skills, and you need to use them together. I suspect that’s really what J-School is good for – giving you the opportunity to learn a few skills, and to apply them repeatedly until you can do it decently.

  • http://www.geniusnow.com Greg Burton

    Frankie – your point is hardly worthless, and I’d agree that in a case like that bloggers as a group give you access to information that “reporters” can’t. It’s one of the great things about blogs.

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot.com JennyD

    Greg, thanks for answering and sorry my post got cut off. I talk too much I guess.

    Here’s my problem: having been in the business in print, I have to say that the only standards were the ones I followed personally, or that my immediate supervisors told me about. I cannot say that there were larger standards that defined the craft.

    I can say that the thrill of a good story and getting it out there first was the only standard that seemed to cross every place I worked. In that way, news was just a business, and the product was the good story, and we were like the guys on the assembly line at GM…cranking out new cars and sometimes looking the other way when a bolt was loose.

    That was fine for GM and for the news business back in the old days when there were few producers and few products. But now news is everywhere, and so is commentary and just like GM, the news business is in trouble.

    The tired banner of “standards and ethics” seems a little thin, just as “made in America” no longer cuts it at GM. So, what next for journalism?

  • whodat

    Penny says: “Jim, what do journalists know?

    JennyD, nothing. And the same question could be posed to teachers. What really is a degree in education? With that rather insipid and generalist designation are we to believe that teachers really have the core competency for math science, math, languages, etc?

    Today both teachers and journalists are nothing more than guilds – groups that put up barriers to entry most of the time formalized by a union – regardless of how dismal their performance. Their failure to reform reflects this.”

    From experience, I can tell you that gathering news can be a frightening experience. My bet is half of the bloggers would soil themselves having to ask the tough questions to famous/important people while being surrounded by other media members and bright lights.

    The same goes for classroom teaching. Your ignorance of the subject is alarming. It is a grueling job, physically and mentally.

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  • Iceman

    It has been implied or outright stated twice that teachers and journalists know nothing, and I’m appalled at the ignorance demonstrated by the respondents.

    Teachers know how to impart information in ways that make that information accessible to the minds of their students. The difference between a mathematician and an educator in the subject area of mathematics may be great when considered in terms of core competencies. A mathematician specializes to a specific mathematical discipline or set of disciplines and investigates the interaction of the math and the world described. Mathematicians, by and large, are horrible when it comes to meaningful interaction with the minds of an audience outside of their specialty areas. Educators, on the other hand, are trained to impart knowledge. Math teachers do not specialize as intensively in mathematical disciplines; they specialize in the learning styles and capacities of the adolescent and young adult mind, and the tools to meaningfully transmit core competencies to a classroom of students, most of whom do not learn best in identical ways.

    Journalism, likewise, aims not to specialize in knowledge of content areas, but in accurate and meaningful transmission of information to an audience. Journalists, as do teachers, will develop certain specialties over time, areas where their reporting is best, subject matter which they have a knack for understanding and imparting. Their subject knowledge is not, however, as mission-critical as their ability to learn and teach.

    The instincts to talent and integrity may not be fundamentally teachable beyond early adolescence, but those instincts can be honed and shaped into usable tools. They can, however, be blunted and dulled out of all usefulness much more easily. All you need to do to dull an edge is to cut with it. Sharpening is, inevitably, disproportionately more work.

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  • cyberROTH

    I’m with Iceman: Appalled at the ignorance that allows someone to claim that teachers and journalists know nothing.

    Some mundane examples:

    Teachers know enough about child development and psychology to manage a room full of children and keep them engaged long enough for them to absorb lessons. Teachers know how to reach students with very different backgrounds and learning styles– teaching 20 kids at once, some of whom learn best by seeing, some who learn best by hearing, some who learn best by doing, and some who have difficulty learning at all. This is what a problem-free classroom is like, 180 days a year.

    Journalists know that more than one source is necessary in order to state something as a fact. Journalists know to track down and present both sides of a story. Journalislts know that an identified source closest to the heart of a story carries more weight that a source further removed from the action. Journalists know to watch out for their own biases and to try not to be driven by them. Journalists have learned techniques for delving deeper, reaching difficult-to-find people or data.

    Do you need a special degree to have these skills? Maybe not. Are teachers and journalists the only ones who have these skills? Certainly not. But that doesn’t mean the people who practice them for a living “know nothing.”

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  • http://www.corante.com/rebuildingmedia Dorian Benkoil

    Yeah, but look what’s since happened to Heyward …

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