Journalism and the Interwebs

This is a followup to a previous post I did in haste after a local "incident" where there was some confusion between a local entrepreneur and a reporter. You can also read Lance Weatherby's take on this at Force of Good.

I think one shift in journalism that's been going on for a while ( and may have accelerated due to tools like Twitter ) is that people's working relationships exist simultaneously in multiple modes.

Whereas in the past you would have to pick up the phone to make contact with someone and get information from them for a story, you can now have a series of short conversations with them with almost no effort. The process of gathering material for your writing work is now mixed in with the many bite-sized conversations you've had with your subjects and the tone gets muddied.

Journalists and writers have always had friendly, informal relationships and met at social functions, eaten meals / had drinks together. There isn't anything wrong with that in and of itself. It's just that when it came time to produce written content there was a barrier that made sure the tone was appropriate and that care had been taken to preserve the usual jounralistic standards.

Another shift is a reduction in the effort and time required to publish your work. It used to take editing, typesetting, proofing, printing and distribution to get your words in front of your readers. Now you can unleash your latest creation with no help from anyone and almost no effort on your part.

In Summary

For journalists, something to ponder: Weigh the need to get something published quickly with the need to be true to yourself, your sources and your community.

For entrepreneurs, keep in mind when talking to journalists, writers, bloggers and others that you need to be aware of what information you are sharing and your expectations as to the privacy of the conversation. If you want to be "off the record", then say so. Don't disclose anything you don't want to see on the front page of the paper, even if you are promised to stay "on background" or "off the record". If you never send it, you don't have to worry about who sees it.

P.S. This Zemanta thing is pretty cool!

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