Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What is Journalism?

Ah, a question asked here repeatedly. Again we turn to the sage council of Leo Laporte and his This Week in Tech crew.

Jump ahead to about the one hour mark of episode 317 to get the discussion. Jeff Jarvis and John Dvorak bat this around with Leo, and a couple of the big ideas:

Facts are now common, thanks to the internet. Good point, you simply Google facts, or as Dvorak intones, go to the "Book of Knowledge" WikiPedia. By the way, this isn't the first time Dvorak use the TWiT platform to browbeat the future of journalism.

Facts are devalued -- because they are everywhere, according to Laporte, the premium is on analysis. He comes around later to point out that since everyone has facts, then a "neutral" journalist bringing you the facts loses value.

Dvorak and Mike Elgan go at it over whether blogging is journalism -- which is very fun -- but we get a cross reference to a Jarvis post on What is Journalism, that is a must read by itself.

Elgan is clearly living in the 1960s -- the Age of Cronkite -- thinking that journalism is something formal. He gets beat up pretty roundly by the rest of the crew.

For me, the killer was Elgan explaining that when he "does journalism" he has a different standard than when he blogs "because I'm just spouting off about stuff." Does he really not understand that to the end user, the people formerly known as the audience, they do not differentiate by platform? Your brand is your reputation in the world of truthyness. Does he forget the Mike Wise incident?

I've argued for some time -- understand the difference that Twitter and live blogging is real-time reporting, and don't expect it to have the reflectiveness of journalism.

Check out Dvorak and Jarvis' quick history of newspapers and bias around the 1:06 mark -- also worth the download. Jarvis' 140:

"Objectivity is a lie. It doesn't exist. It never did. It's part of the priesthood."

Jarvis makes the very clear point that people want information and don't care if it comes from a journalist or not.

They did worry about the source, but increasingly it is exactly as Jarvis points out -- people look for facts, and they will get it from whoever can give it to them.

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