An abstract on journalism vs. blogging

Posted in Blogging, Business, Social networking

Today I went on visit to the set of The 4400 and interviewed one of the cast, Chad Faust. I drew a lot from the interview, and ironically little had to do with the interview itself (although superb).

Sometimes moments in time stand out for you where you have the opportunity to assess where you are and where you want to be. This was one of those moments.

The moment had as much to do with my view of myself as well as my goals in the industry. I have stepped aside from calling myself a journalist or a writer in the past. This has been purposeful in some ways, but also perhaps a mistake.

b5media is still recognized more as a ‘blog’ network than a ‘new media’ network. That is one part of the perception issue. The other part has to do with purposeful grassroots strategy. We put the community first. Understanding that the community is best served by not just information, but dialogue, immediately strips away much of the formality in journalism today. We take on the role of the blogger, which is much more approachable. We talk as if in conversation. We gossip. We go for niche posts with depth instead of sparser, more comprehensive posts. It is a different style, which has its merits.

However, I wonder if by doing so, do we in some ways underestimate our audience, as well as ourselves? Does removing the formality of language necessarily mean removing the formality of topic?

I think this is more applicable to our tv sites than our celebrity ones. In the case of The 4400, I think Alexandra (my co-writer) and I have taken to task the analysis portion far more than on any other site. We dig down into the nuances of episodes as well as the overarching themes and the social commentary therein. But it’s more the exception than the rule, and due credit goes to the writers of the show for making this key.

This struck me today as an odd balance. On the one hand, I think our decision to strip away formality has been a great one, even if it can mean "dumbing down" sometimes. On the other hand, it might be something we want to consider as the network grows. As we try to get more professional recognition as journalists by "old media" standards there will need to be some give. With communities of scale, there is the expectation that we will have the inside information privy to journalists, and we have a responsibility to meet these expectations.

I have some very exciting ideas in this area to add to the big pile of ideas that I’ve been sitting on for a while now. The spotlight is shifting our way and I feel the pressure to innovate. To pull things together, create a brand that sells not just to advertisers but to media, and give our hard working writers the due credit – and opportunities – they deserve. 

I feel the urgency to grow our network not just in size, but also in reputation. To use our skills as writers, with the aid of technology and innovative ideas, to be recognized by communities and industry alike.

We are all the experts in our topics, far more than old media yet recognizes. And, as a network, I think we have much more to offer as well as prove.

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5 Responses to “An abstract on journalism vs. blogging”

  1. Travis says:

    It took me a while after starting to work for myself to describe myself as a “business owner” or even a “self-employed.”

    You *are* a journalist if you do journalism regularly, and you shouldn’t feel inhibited from using that label. Read about I.M. Stone and realize that the notion of a person being a journalist on his or her own is a noble and legitimate label, that does, as you say, come with some heady responsibility.


  2. Travis says:

    Darn. Change that to I.F. Stone, and re-read…

  3. Mark Evans says:

    Nice post, and you’re absolutely right that bloggers are becoming just as good reporters as journalists – even if we don’t want to call ourselves reporters yet. Looking forward to more of your thoughts on the subject!


  4. Hmm, less intellectual comment from me:

    Yay, there’s going to be more The 4400 episodes! :-)

    By the way: Is it on purpose that you don’t link to your 4400 site from this entry? If so, why?

  5. arieanna says:

    Just lazy.

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