Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Journalism Vs Bloggers - Introduction

After a recent discussion with a newspaper journalist, the lasting impression i got was her general pessimism, both about the curent state of affairs and the future of the industry. The main thoughts i had on the subject were about why blogs are having such an influence on the decline of newspapers, why professional journalism is still important and what journalists can do to prosper going forward. I was originally going to cover all of that in one post, but it became rather long and unwieldy so i will split it out into a few posts.

I would like to preface this series of posts by saying up front that i am in no way a professional writer, which should become obvious quite quickly. Furthermore i harbour no aspirations of overthrowing traditional journalists or making money from this blog. On the other hand i think i have something interesting to say on the topic and i am grateful that even a small number of people will read it. The above 3 sentences contain the seeds of why newspapers around the globe are failing, but they should also give professional journalists hope for their future.

A lot of the commentary on this topic from traditional journalists, is really just whining about the demise of newspapers and looking for someone to blame. They blame everyone from the general public, for not caring about good reporting anymore, to MTV for shortening attention spans. But mostly they blame bloggers for making so much content free - how dare they! The more objective perspective, is that technology has fundamentally changed the landscape of media, rendering the old business model of newspapers unsustainable. No-one is at fault, it is simply evolution.

Bloggers can be equally sensationalist, proclaiming newspapers to be dead and professional journalists an anachronism. This is at best a partial truth. Newspapers are certainly in decline, but there is a good chance that they will continue on - in some form or another - for quite some time. Sensationalist bloggers are also guilty of being unable to separate the medium (newspapers) from the work (journalism) and it is an important distinction.

In this series of posts, i will specifically be discussing journalists and newspapers, but the points are applicable more generally to any traditional media industry (music, film, publishing; books and magazines). In the first post i will look at why blogging is killing newspaper reporting and why this isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the second i will move on to why there will always be a place for professional journalists. Thirdly - and most importantly if you hope to be a professional journalist - what professional writers will have to do to survive and thrive in the future. Finally i will post a round-up of the main points and some conclusions.

I would appreciate any comments on what i write in this and future posts, particularly if you disagree with me.


  1. I'm glad I inspired you to write Mr McG!
    The demise of hard copy newspapers is inevitable which is fine by me as it would actually make my profession a lot easier.
    I dream of Friday afternoons where I am not forced to lay out 12 pages of the motoring guide!
    My problem is I think journalism as a profession will lose its sparkle so-to-speak due to every Tom, Dick and Harry believing they have what it takes to deliver news.
    When it comes to print journalism the writing part is only a small part of what we do.
    Research, interviewing skills, building relationships with contacts, fact checking and having news sense are what makes a great journalist.
    Blogs are nine times out of 10 commentary or opinions.
    News sites, while some include blogs, present for the most part balanced and unbiased reporting of events.
    Any idiot can start a blog and report "the news" but without the knowledge of media laws and ethics they are setting themselves up for a fall and will bring the journalism profession into disrepute.
    I am all for people starting up blogs and sharing their views/opinions/creativity and whatever but it's when people refer to themselves as reporters, journos or professional writers when they are clearly not, I get upset.
    I didn't go to uni for four years, undertake a two year cadetship with a further three years of post cadetship study to get through for some spotty 16-year-old in a bedroom to call himself a 'journalist'.
    Anyway I look forward to part two of your thesis.
    In the meantime make sure you keep checking out my page
    which is more of an unleashing of random thoughts than anything else.
    P.S I want to join the 'blogging duel' What are the requirements?

  2. All of the above will be addressed to a greater or lesser degree in my series of posts ;-) Some of the above i agree, with some i don't, i will be interested to hear your thoughts on the latter points.

    While i like the theme of your blog, i have subscribed via RSS so i will be notified when there are new posts ;-)

    The Blog Duel requirements are to post at least once a week to a nominated blog before 23:59 (GMT+8) each Friday. More details can be found in the post and comments here. In the words of Alexander; "simplez". I will also need to work out how to add a commenting feature to Tumblr blogs, it seems to be surprisingly difficult...