Is blogging killing journalism?

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone snicker when I say something about blogging, then you know that I could quit my day job and live a nice, wealthy life. That’s why the argument of blogging versus journalism tends to fall into areas of white noise to me, mostly because I’ve been taught, by journalism professors, to not care anymore.

Still, there are those days when it gets me thinking, and it is more to the fact when journalists are the ones who are raising a stink over the legitimacy of this new medium. Such is the case that you can get more details on from a post that Raul made a few days ago.

It takes me back to the short time where I was once a journalism student. Wavering in and out of studies that would give me a better grasp on an educational background in broadcasting, I found myself surrounded by professors who saw print as the only worthwhile medium that one should dedicate themselves to in the realm of media.

Now, before I start to say anything negative, there is absolute truth in the need to develop a solid background in writing, and working in radio for as long as I have, I can assure you that there are folks who have missed this step in their career ladder in broadcasting. Point number one in your journey into TV or radio should be to learn how to write, and then you can focus on looking or sounding good doing it. Some improv acting wouldn’t hurt as well, but I digress.
Continue reading “Is blogging killing journalism?”

Blogathon 2008

Blogathon 2008 has kicked off and it is in full swing. As I sit here right now, I’m watching Dances With Wolves with Duane as he prepares to make post number nine or ten. To be honest, I’m getting pretty sleepy that I’m not sure where he’s at in terms of numbers.

Rual is here as well, firing away like a rabbit, making post after post with ease. I guess that’s easy for a guy who has a mind wrapped around academia. I recall those days, but it’s more common to find myself wrapped up in computer network cables and a brain full of code due to the number of projects that I have going on.

That’s pretty much why I’m not doing Blogathon this year. I like being the moral support and supplier of caffeine to the troops, aside from the occasional guest post for various Blogathon folks.

Rebecca has been working hard to get this years Blogathon organized, and you can see a list of the participants here. Duane has taken things one step further and created a RSS feed for all the Vancouver bloggers that are participating in this year’s fund raiser.

I admire there efforts and determination to make one post every thirty minutes for 24 hours. Trust me, if you think blogging, or even writing for that matter, is hard, you haven’t experienced Blogathon.

Also, if you feel like you want to contribute, think about making a donation to any of the bloggers and their charity of choice. Comments are great, but the real reason these people are sacrificing their weekend to blog nearly nonstop is to raise money for a good cause. It’s not just for the sake of being geeky.

CommonCraft: Blogs in Plain English

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Lee LeFever at NorthernVoice last year, and he has since taken his endeavors with online communities to new levels along with his wife, Sachi. They’ve been producing a series of videos to help explain technologies of today’s internet for those who like simple explanations in plain english, such as wikis, social networking, and social bookmarking.

In the video below, CommonCraft looks to help explain what blogs are in plain english, helping those who have little to no knowledge about the medium. It’s a good watch for those who have a simple, basic idea about what blogs are, and the topic is a good one to follow my recent post about blogging as a medium in general.

Where blogging fits in with traditional media

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day about how new media and blogging interacts with today’s, traditional media. Fascinating topics for discussion, I know, but the interesting fact is that we are two people who currently work in the realms of radio broadcasting. Obviously, I’m a proponent of the medium, and the other person is one who is hesitant.

NV07 - Blogging 101 #2 It broke down to the way bloggers and those who read blogs will hold such truth and validity with everything that is put into the blogosphere. I had to agree that it is concerning, if not scary, how this can be true is some circumstances. However, I also reminded her that there are those people who will do nothing but rely on mainstream media, paying attention to only certain outlets. Of course, the easy examples of this would be someone who only watches FoxNews opposed to the variety of TV news outlets that are available to most cable television subscribers.

They had a tough time disputing that, so I broke down my thought on this premise even further. I explained how it should be our job, as bloggers, to instill an element of checks and balances upon traditional media so that many viewpoints and aspects to a story can be examined, if not built upon.

Rebecca wrote about a post a few weeks ago about an article by Chris McCosky of The Detroit News when he said, “Bloggers just aren’t journalists“.

Bloggers and personal, non-journalistic Web sites are starting to tick me off. Look, I appreciate and respect that in America, everybody has an opinion, especially on sports. And I respect everybody’s right to share their thoughts with anybody who happens to own a computer via blogs.

But people, let’s not confuse what random fans and wanna-be pundits are tossing out there with legitimate reporting. The line is getting way too blurry now between Internet noise and actual journalism. It’s actually getting to the point now where some (too many) of the bloggers are using cyberspace to discredit the legitimate media.

Now I am not saying all legitimate media or every reporter is 100 percent credible. Nor am I saying every blogger is out to discredit legitimate media. But the distinction between the two must be clearer.

Journalism employs trained professionals. We actually have to go to school for this stuff. We take our jobs seriously. There are rules and standards that we are beholden to. There are ethics involved. We actually talk to, in person, the people we write about. [detnews]

Session: For the record, I’ve studied a little bit in the ways of journalism school, and there are elements from that schooling that I maintain today. However, I’ve known people who have walked away with journalism degrees that whole heartedly scare me as to their journalistic integrity and the ability to do their jobs respectably. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it certainly gives me reason to question those who have the duty of telling me everything it is that I need to know.

I take my news from a variety of mainstream media sources, such as, but not limited to, the BBC, CNN, Guardian, Reuters, AP, New York Times, and, yes, even FoxNews. I like to see stories from multiple angles and derive my own conclusions, not just what “trained journalists” are trained, and told by their editors, to report on.

I’m also familiar with the structure that certain journalists use to report the news. There is your standard formula with the way you structure your intro, presented a certain set of information to setup your story. After that, you have to get your quote from someone close to the story. Toss in a deadline to a reporter and the number of people in the pool to get that needed quote gets a little slim. After that, there’s the extra back story at the tail end to give insight and let you know if there is more to tune into for next week.

Certainly there is need for delicate training for how one refines themselves to achieve this mastery, and I say that non-mockingly. However, in this era of big media where less means more, the small amount of journalists out there have a very large world to cover.

After that, blogs offer something deeper than the facts and figures of a story. They bring out qualitative information, as well as the quantitative, that provide various viewpoints that a journalist might not be able to provide. On top of that, bloggers can serve as way to watch journalists to make sure they are doing a worthwhile job in their reporting.

The Crazy Canucks on CKNW talkin' bout Podcasting
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

As a blogger, I am a source, but I’m hardly the source. Journalists are exactly the same thing. If you argue your viewpoint on an event, you have to consider where you got your information. it’s no different than a game of telephone where the facts and details can change as they are relayed and published.

Trust me, I’ve been there and seen it so many times on a personal level. Last spring when The Crazy Canucks got a lot of press coverage, the information that I would provide to journalists were stretched or mistaken for half-truths or something completely opposite. It’s human nature to make errors, and I believe that as a collective group, feedback can help put the information back together into something that is much more factual than what a very select, few people can tell you.

It’s not as much about discredit as it is making sure that what is said is a valid statement. Even more so, it’s about having a voice, and I’ll be damned if I or anyone should have to go to school to be able to have that.

Blogs are just another realm in the vast world of media

Josh Wolf made a post on CNet titled, “Like television, radio and print, blogs are just a medium“. The whole read is a good summary of the things I tell people when I start talking about blogs and podcasting in relation to what traditional media does in the time of new media.

When radio was first pioneered, print journalists were quick to dismiss it as inferior. This same scenario repeated itself with the advent of television and again with the rise of technologies that allowed solo journalists to produce their own stories single-handedly. As blogs and other community media become more popular and more relevant, the assault on this new medium continues to grow.

Michael Skube’s recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times provides a reasonable critique on the blogosphere but neglects to look at the larger picture. He points out that many blogs are nothing more than commentary and suggests that many of these blogs are “noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.” While I can’t argue with this conclusion, his analysis misses the fact that blogs have broken a number of important stories in recent years and fails to mention the non-news that the establishment media finds itself focusing on with alarming frequency. [cnet]

In the last few years, I’ve had a lot of discussions on this topic. It’s really difficult for some people to grasp onto the notion of there being worthwhile content that can be derived and coexist with what traditional media does, if not enhance it. What pains me more is the dismissal of new media as being not worthwhile. To that, it really becomes a matter of not knocking it until you try it.

Be sure to read the rest of the post. Wolf takes on the old with the new, explaining strengths and weaknesses to both sides of the coin.

A job well done

The late night home stretch

A real trooper. She raised just over $400 in about 36 hours during Blogathon 2007, and there were many followers throughout the whole experience. I wasn’t able to be around for most of it, nor could I stay awake till the bitter end like she did. Still, way to go, babe.

Blogathon 2007 I wanted to make a point to let everyone know about Blogathon 2007. Not only is it a good cause to take apart in, but Rebecca is stepping up to the challenge this year. We watched Alanah and Yvonne go for it the last time around, so we know what it takes. Unfortunately, I have to work that day, otherwise I’d probably be taking part as well.

The goal of blogathon is to blog every 30 minutes for 24 hours (this year being July 28th). The most validating part of the concept is to get people to sponsor your marathon of bloggery. Each blogathon site will have a donate/sponsor button and a charity of choice selected. As you read and enjoy the plethora of content hopefully you will be inspired to donate. Last year I donated to Canuck Place and received a tax receipt along with warm fuzzies. The blogger never processes your money or sees your transaction, it all goes directly through the charity.

This year I’ll be blogging from 6:00 am Saturday July 28th until 6:00 am Sunday July 29th. I will be awake (because that’s a part of the challenge) and fully interactive with commenters and sponsors. My charity will be the Surrey Food Bank, and I’ll put up a nice little badge and link when the fun begins. Until then, stay tuned, the post category will be ‘blogathon’. Who knows how silly things will get at 4:00 am Sunday morning with me running on no sleep, tethered to my laptop. [miss604]

You can follow this link to make a pledge to her efforts.

It should be an interesting experience. I know that if I were to be doing this, I would be supporting the Angelman Syndrome Foundation for my nephew Zach, probably the sweetest little boy that you’ll ever meet. If anything, I’ll be popping in on Rebecca’s effort with more information on the condition.

Generation gaps in blogging

The simple matter of fact is that some people get blogging and others don’t. When you start point the finger at generation gaps, that gets even more sticky.

This comes in reference to a series of posts that Arpit Jacob wrote about in this post.

Check this post here by the so called usability Guru Jakob Nielsen on his website (I refuse to call it a blog, if you can’t comment then its not a blog) were he is typically saying blogging sucks. Lately he’s either been out of touch or he is getting too old. My dad can’t understand what a blog is or why I spend so much time after coming back home from work even though I am tired. My mom once saw my Orkut profile and she asked me if it was my Website. I think Jakob Nielsen belongs to the same generation. Sure he was once a respected usability guru. But if he writes any more silly articles like the one above I might have to label him an old Grandpa. [clazh]

I can say first hand that some of this is true. It’s tough for some people to grasp on to new techniques or methods while holding on to the roots that have been instilled via education and experience. Even though one person can stand to gain so much with the world literally at their doorstep, there is hesitation to step out of what is known. You can only spend so much time learning new things as well, but here is where folks like us, in the trenches, come in to help out.

Blogging gets a bad rap because it being so equated to spilling our personal guts out onto the Internet. While some of that is true for some, it’s far from that for others. It’s a presentation of what you want out there, professional, personal, hobbies, sports related, cat related, etc. It’s whatever you want it to be.

Still, helping anyone see the light in all the tools that are out there is tough. I’m fortunate to have a family that understands some of this, but there are some days that you want to pull your hair out when it comes to others, especially when it’s a fresh college graduate who equates blogging to email. Eh… What can you do?

What I would like to see from the NHL

Going back to my post about attending the state of the Canucks franchise with J.J., I thought I would hit a few points that stuck out to me. More so, it’s something that a lot of hockey minded folks, from broadcasters to fans, have been talking about. It was the opening panel that inspires me to mention a few of the following topics.

Getting set for the panel discussion

I can’t remember who said it, but the basic jest was that we, the fans, need to speak up about what we want from the things we enjoy and love. Truly, that can go for anything you follow, sports related or not, and the truth is that fans make things like the NHL exist.

Speaking of a lack of fans making things not exist, look at the Nashville Predators. Great team, horrible fan base, and a relocation of the franchise is constant soap opera. There are about four locations being tossed around: Las Vegas, NV, Kansas City, MO, Hamilton, ON, and Winnipeg, MB. Basically, the southwest desert, midwest U.S., hockey saturated Ontario, and a return of the NHL to the Canadian prairie.

I’ve stated my feelings about KC before, even though that was about the Penguins who are staying in Pittsburgh, and I still stand by what I said. However, I will add that if the Predators are going to relocate within the U.S., then it should be to KC, not Las Vegas. Another Canadian team is something I am all in support of, but not in Ontario. Return it to Winnipeg where people are hockey lovers, and it’s a well known fact that all the Canadian teams in the NHL are making a large bulk of profits for the entire league. It just makes better business sense to move the team where hockey is loved and will make a hell of a lot more money than the desert.

If you move a team to Las Vegas, you’ll have to spend a lot of marketing dollars on teaching fans that the team exists on top of teaching the game. At least if you move the team to Kansas City, the team will be closer to the 49th parallel where hockey is more prevalent. Another team in the desert, where there is never enough ice to even skate on, is a ridiculous move.

Speaking of ridiculous, kill the television contract with Versus. Nuke it. Rip it up. There are way too many people who have a hard enough time getting NHL coverage in the U.S. with the way it stands, so something needs to change. There are those who can’t even get the network, so why would you invest in something that has lackluster exposure?

A little side note, but an interesting one, the annual Iowa vs. Iowa State football game will be on Versus this year, opposed to one of the major broadcast networks or ESPN. That even has a few people asking questions about what a Versus actually is. Being the good Hawkeye fan that I am, that article made me laugh as well as sad.

Anyway, I have liked the NBC deal thus far, and it’s even better with Brett Hull leaving to take a job with the Dallas Stars. I don’t like them leaving a game early because a game runs long, especially for a horse race that has one hour pre-show for a two minute event. I can’t think of a better way to turn off a new fan who discovers hockey in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs, much like I did in my early teens.

Lastly (because I know you’re listening, NHL), take a long, hard look at what the New York Islanders are doing with allowing bloggers access to their franchise. Not only am I a huge fan of this, but this is a remarkable step in allowing those who love their team to report on their team. It’s true that this has its good and bad qualities to it, but there is a lot of difference between sports reporting (i.e. radio or newspaper) and sports blogging.

Canucks Open Practice
Recording a podcast episode of The Crazy Canucks from the press box in GM Place.
(Photo credit: Miss604 on Flickr)

In blogging, and podcasting for that matter, we brew a community. We have comments, interaction, and other people blog what someone else blogs about. It’s a world wide conversation, and we’re talking hockey on a scale that is much different than what sports reporters do in press or behind the desk or mic. We’re not bound by deadlines or schedules, but there is precedence on being honest about what you love, which is your hockey team. True that this can be biased, but people write what they are passionate about. That’s blogging, and they post views about the team they are the fans of, expanding and strengthening the team and league around the world.

The NHL should make more of an effort to expand this concept throughout the league. Want examples of how much blogging benefits a team like the Canucks? Check out J.J., Alanah, or Zanstorm. They are fans, but they offer news, viewpoints, and a unique voice that speak to people more than a sports reporter might. At least I know that I can count on all of those folks to translate league news into something I can readily understand.

Those are the big issues for me right now, and I know that there are more that will creep up later. I’ll try to post about them when I think of them. If you have something to say, then post it in the comments. Better yet, get your voice out there, too. Who knows if we can change anything in the end, but speaking up is a start.

Making and keeping friends with blogging

I’m trying to fulfill a bit of a promise to my buddy Andy about the things I have learned from blogging. I think that anyone who does blog learns something, and that all makes us a slice of an expert in whatever it is that we are launching out into the world of the Internet. That can be kinda scary because it is the whole world, and there are moments that, when you get into the depths of blogging, you need to take a step back and examine where you are with this whole thing.

Stats: The Forbidden Love 3 I guess this comes from looking at the total number of posts that I have made last night, and it surprised me.

After 3.5 years and 66 entries ago, I passed the 1000 post mark.

No need to bust out the champagne or give me any pats on the back, but the significance is worth noting. When I did start blogging in January 2004, I kept things pretty low profile. For a few years before that, I journaled by hand, and a college course in nonfiction writing gave me some inspiration for wanting to do more of something I’ve found to enjoy. Not saying I was or am great at it, but it was the kick starter for developing my own style and voice for what I wanted to my writing outlets to become.

My family picked up on the blog first, and after moving to Vancouver, it’s a great way for them to keep tabs on my adventures, not to mention the same thing about some of my friends. However, not all of them are as tech savvy or hip to the whole social media/networking/web2.0 thing.

Down the Hatch
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Then there is that fact that I moved to Vancouver and knew only Rebecca. There’s a handful of other people that I knew through her and are still good friends with, but making new ties would be a lot tougher if it wasn’t for blogging. In fact, blogging is what led to the camping trip from the past weekend, and that is a real unique thing in my mind.

I equate it to my first year in college because I got stuck in temporary housing for almost the whole fall semester, living in a dorm lounge with six other guys. The awkwardness wore off in a few weeks, and pretty soon you all start hanging out together, taking road trips, and being good pals (of which we all stay in contact, for the most part).

Canucks Open Practice
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Blogging, for me, has turned into that, but on a much different level. I have been able to meet some really great people and develop friendships that are building into a community like I have never experienced before. We all do our own thing, and when you actually meetup, you already have something to talk about and expand the back story on. In turn, those experiences can lead to more material to write about later. It’s an intriguing circle, if not tons of fun.

When I think about it, I hate the idea of defining what we do as blogging as much as it is actual writing. Those who write for a living, in the literal sense, will disagree, but there is merit to the things we post about. It might not get published in a hard cover book or The New Yorker, but there are things that we say and do that can affect the world, even if it is just one person, on a variety of levels. Within that, you breed a community that establishes a variety of friendships.

DemoCamp Vancouver
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

Whether it’s tech, podcasting, hockey, tv, movies, or whatever, the things I write about allow me to share my thoughts, opinions, and loves. Then, I’m able to become apart of so many communities and make some really amazing friendships.