Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Blogger vs "Journalist" - A Case Study HBR would be Proud Of...

The debate over "blogger" vs. "journalist" seems like one we will hear for a long time. For a multitude of "reasons", many "professional journalists" have a real dislike for bloggers. Rick Reilly (whose writing I happen to really like) makes no attempt to contain his raw contempt for bloggers - and the list of journos who diss bloggers just goes on from there. The reasons have become so rote, that a pre-schooler could recite them:
  1. No editorial control or review
  2. Nor PROFESSIONALLY trained
  3. Mostly opinion, not "researched"
  4. Often anonymously written
  5. blah,blah,blah
Well, something happened last week that allowed me to examine this argument from a completely different perspective - and one which I hope will open a few eyes. It all started when I was scanning the daily news and I came across a headline that included the words " Lady Golfers" and "Escort Services". Intrigued (as was no doubt the JOURNALIST'S intent), I clicked through. I then proceeded to read an article on Time Magazine's website which pretty much made me want to puke. Seems some ivy league punk named Sean Gregory did a complete hack job on a completely legitimate business - one that is new, innovative, and totally above board. The business, Play Golf Designs is run by one of Bushwood CCs Charter Members, Nisha Sadekar. PGD's staff includes a list of other BCC members such as Amber Prange, Blair O'Neal, Kim Kouwabunpat, Caroline Larson, and others. 
Given this, any attack on Nisha and her crew is pretty much guaranteed to get me ready to drop some old school,down south,give no quarter ass whipping on that dude in the Princeton letter sweater.....but that's for another time. This slanted,biased,unprofessional "story" is complete crap at best, and outright slanderous at worst - but don't just take my word for it - you can read many other people say the same thing here, here, and here.
Therefore, I'm taking a different approach - I'm going to use this as an opportunity to call out the differences between a blogger and a journalist, from a blogger's perspective. Belly up to the bar, and get ready for a tall, cold one...
  1. Bloggers rarely, if ever, get paid - so they are likely to write about something they care about. That means you get REAL passion, not some wanker trying to make a deadline or gen up ad sales evenue..
  2. Bloggers are less likely to take a slanted or biased angle on a story - because they are glad to be talking to someone who will take the time to chat with them.
  3. Bloggers DO threaten traditional journalists - because we don't have to generate (much) revenue to cover costs, we don't have to be sensationalistic or biased - we call em how we see em, and if no one reads the story, no big deal. We don't churn up whatever sensationalistic smeg that we can muster just to move a little product.
  4. Bloggers tend to "care" about the people they write about - because they may want to actually be able to talk to them again in the future - there is no "churn and burn" mentality in the blogosphere (unless, like "The Queen of All Media", you are a corpulent, self important, windbag).
  5. Some bloggers (like me) are, in fact, NOT anonymous. Neither are my colleagues Patricia Hannigan, Shane Bacon, Ryan Ballangee, Nisha Sadekar, Stephanie Wei, Jay Busbee, and a host of others.
  6. Some bloggers (like me) offer their interview subjects a chance to review the story and correct any obvious mistakes - you may call that a lack of independence, I just call it being fair to the people who I talk to. If I don't like their requested changes, we either work it out or I dont post the story - either way, no respect is lost and no one is hosed.
Rather than go on with the list, I want to leave something for the Harvard Business Review to study upon. So the to folks at HBR, I've laid it out for you - you help us figure out, once and for all ,the answer to the Sphynx like riddle - Journalist or Blogger ?
P.S. - Hey "Tiger of the Week"
Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction when Marsellus is talking to Butch...well, if you see a coupla dudes with some pliers and a blowtorch, they aren't coming to fix the water heater...


Laci Underalls said...

That "journalist" is a total douchebag. I googled him, and saw some photos of him hanging out with Kobe - nice.... So explain to me how what PGD is doing os somehow worse than Kobe,um, "assaulting" that chick in Vail ??? What a f**king hypocrite...

One-Eyed Golfer said...

I love they call each other 'Ivies', as if Stanford, Duke and Northwestern are community colleges...

I think Ryan @Waggle was right. This guy went in with a preconceived notion and did not vary from his original thoughts. Pretty narrow for a writer of any sort...

Bobbio said...


I must admit though that the $11.46 I earned from AdSense last month may have swayed my objectivity.

Heather said...

OK in the midst of my tourneys this week I missed this ridiculous, and poorly written, article. I decided it wasn't worth my time to read, but I just broke down and read it. I will never get that 5 minutes of my life back.

I've talked to some of these golfing gals about PGD and they all say that it is an incredible experience and the events are fabulous and really well executed. The speak very highly of Nisha.

I was actually deeply disturbed by another part Sean's little article. And I quote, "Most Play Golf Designs players are on the futures tour, still chasing their fragile big-league dreams."

"Fragile big-league dreams," what the hell is that all about? What is "fragile" about wanting to be on the LPGA?

I've been both a blogger and a journalist. Pretty sure TIME wouldn't count my journalistic background, since it was writing for agribusiness publications that aren't exactly on the news stands.

Nonetheless, I do put my name on my site and I claim responsibility for all that is there. I work tirelessly to assure I have a quote right--just like I did as a reporter. To me it is all about my professional reputation and relationship building--just like it was when I was an editor.

I would never compromise a friend for a headline. It's just not my style.

In the end, there are idiots everywhere. But I would add one more important difference between journalists an bloggers. Most bloggers allow free and open discussion about what they have written. I promise you Sean's ego would never allow that to happen.