Argue with me IV

Argue with me IV

: Another set of Qs and As from the Corante interview. Please comment/argue there.

EM: Voice and transparency: you’ve cited these two characteristics as among the most important drivers in the media world of the future – can you expand on that, tying them together?

JJ: The organizing principle of the internet and weblogs — as well as of media and marketing — is trust. Trust is about a relationship. And relationships are human.

The problem with big media — not to mention politics, government, and marketing — is that they became institutions; they lost sight of their humanity as they tried to raise themselves up on pedestals away from the people. They could not admit to making mistakes. They could not enter into conversations.

Weblogs have shown a new way because they are distinctly human; they have a human voice; they are transparent. And they demand equivalent transparency of media: We want them to unhide their agendas and show their prejudices and process. Many in media resist. When this was the topic at a recent Aspen Institute gataway, some august media people in the room said, Judge us by our product, not our process. I disagreed.

But look at the success of FoxNews on one side of the political ledger and the international spread of The Guardian on the other. Look at the explosion of blogs: The “audience” wants perspective and viewpoint, voice and transparency.

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EM: What sort of adjustments do you expect legacy big media brands to make with regard to voice and transparency? What happens if they make no adjustments?

JJ: As a reporter, I was trained not to reveal my opinions. It was hard to become a columnist and become human. It was just as hard to become a blogger and become transparent. But I reveal my political opinions on my blog because I believe I owe my readers that much transparency, so they can judge the rest of what I say.

I believe established media must learn to do the same. But it will be difficult — often impossible — for big media organizations and for individual journalists to do that. It’s a violation of almost a century’s news culture.

Those who do adjust and learn to reveal their perspectives while also maintaining standards of professionalism will succeed (I hope). Those who hold to old rules and expectations will look more and more anachronistic and silly — and just plain dull. CNN is to FoxNews — that is to say, smaller — as big media is to citizens’ media and the many new competitors to come.

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