Whither the biz

So I moderated — or tried to moderate — a panel at the Online News Association this weekend. Here‘s a story about it at the ONA site:

Try as he might, Jeff Jarvis couldn’t quite keep what he called the “dinosaur-bashing” and the “blogger-bashing” from rearing their respectively ugly heads at Saturday afternoon’s “Journalism 2010: Who’s leading the way?” panel discussion.

Though the former mainstream journalist-turned-blogger had hoped the discussion would focus on what online journalism has to look forward to in five years, some in attendance – including panelist Robert Cauthorn, who is president of CityTools – couldn’t help but take a few swipes at the established media – the dinosaur.

Cauthorn wouldn’t get off the snark express regarding the NY Times (which went on to win lots o’ awards at the banquet that followed). Others snarked at his snarking. As threatened, I read Rafat Ali’s scold of the ONA’s first day for their lack of passion. Somebody got up and argued back at “the blogger” that they have lots of passion. I got Rafat up — if at first reluctantly — not to fight back — Crossfire is dead — but instead to give his suggestions for what the ONA should do next year. He was quite the mensch, and the crowd recognized that with applause. But the snark express rode on. The editor of Projo emotionally said that she, too, is a citizen even if she’s also a journalist. No argument…. so long as the contrary is also accepted: Citizens can be journalists, too. A guy from the Scotsman issued the old saw as if he’d just thought of it that second: Who would you want to perform brain surgery on you, a surgeon or a citizen? I said I knew who I sure as hell didn’t want to perform surgery on me: a medical reporter. The bloggers were tired of being bashed for so long they bashed back; the dinosaurs were tired of being bashed in turn, so they bashed.

You get the smelly drift. There were good moments as well but it’s sad to see this destructive nya-nyaing from both sides, as if there are sides. We’re all supposed to be headed in the same direction and if we don’t recognize that then others who don’t give a fuck will just take over while the professionals piss on each other.

: To my amazement, I got email from a thin-skinned Gawkerite (an oxymoron, I would have thought) because of the last link above. Let me be clear then: I’m saying that while the bashers bash each other, people who are smarter and have a more authentic voice and are more nimble and less encumbered by old rules and egos will come in and take audience and advertising because they don’t give a fuck about the old rules of the old world. So I come not to bury Gawker but to praise Gawker.

  • http://www.scotsman.com Stewart Kirkpatrick

    Hey Jeff,

    I’m the “guy from the Scotsman”. You obviously didn’t take in my follow-up comment. I wasn’t indulging in “destructive nya-nyaing” – I said that one should choose the surgeon who had a proven track record. The point being that – blogger, citizen journalist or dinosaur – we will live or die by the quality of what we produce.

    But, hey, we’d all separated into armed camps by that time so the finer aspects of my point got lost.


    Stewart The Guy From The Scotsman

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish Grier

    Jeff…I read Rafat Ali’s comments about the lack of passion and the lack of entrepreneurs. It was a fussy kid’s whine. The fact remains, and you know this Jeff, that the new citizen journalists, the ones who just might have the passion to change things aren’t sitting in expensive conferences. We have day jobs or are in grad school. We have the passion and self-publish daily. For y’all to try to find us takes alot of reduction of noise and it’s not easy but we are there.

    There used to be a philosophy that the general liberal arts education could get one somewhere–even into a field completely unrelated to what one studied. Yet nowadays everything is professionalized and one can’t get that job unless one goes to a fancy grad school. What you media guys need to do is start *discovering* some of us–help us out a bit. Give us jobs, mentor us. Not belittle us and try to find ways to commodify us by selling us on the idea of pasting cheezeball ads on our blogs. Or making us work for wages far below someone with less talent and more education can earn straight out of school.

    Don’t just read our resumes…read our lives. We are articulate, educated and life experienced. We are doing it, but could do a heck of alot more with a little bit of a leg up.

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