Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Bloggers v journalists, unnecessary enemies


At a conference of bloggers the weekend, amongst the general loveliness of it all, there seemed to be one or two notions about journalists and journalism that gave me cause to sigh deeply.


As someone who has, over the years, worked for, among others, The Daily Star, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Expires, The Sunday Express, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Record and The Sunday Mail, I'm probably qualified to share a few observations.



  • I have never hacked any one and neither, as far as I know, has anyone else I know. Hacking is not rife.
  • People are routinely paid for stories but it doesn't mean the stories are less valid than free ones.
  • I have never blackmailed anyone for a story and neither has anyone else I know in an industry I've been in for 20 years.
  • Stories are routinely leaked by all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.
  • Whatever the source stories are checked for veracity.
  • There are so many good true stories there is no need to made anything up.
  • Journalists from tabloid and broadsheet newspapers do the same job, it's the writing style that differs.
  • Newspapers are products that must sell.
  • As with any other profession, journalism has good and bad operators, ethical and unethical.
  • There is a code of practice and most people follow it strictly. Same goes for PCC guidelines.
  • When anyone publishes anything in public no matter where our how, it cannot be unpublished and the author must take responsibility for it.
  • The distinction between the public interest and what interests the public is very blurry. And it has to be entertaining to a degree, after all copy in a newspaper is called a story and the TV news is a show.
  • Journalism and journalists are not the same. Harold Shipman did not affect public perception of all doctors.
  • Journalists aren't generally in it for the money, because there isn't very much.

As most bloggers do it to write, to share and because they think they've got something the world might be entertained by, in many respects, they are no different to journalists. They tell the truth and have no interest in breaking the law. 


I'm not saying "like me I'm a journalist", rather "if you're a blogger you've got an inquiring mind, use it to establish the truth".


 




20 comments:

  1. Yes! Thank you!! My husband is a journalist and I find myself getting quite defensive when people blame "the media" for everything. He abhors phone hacking, as do his colleagues, as much as the rest of us. I think journalism is an incredibly important job, it's not easy, and those deadlines would make the average person wince. I wish people would think twice before lumping all journalists together.

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    1. Agreed, and don't get me started on people taking certain paper's views on the subject as gospel without looking at the bigger picture...

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  2. Sadly, I suspect journalism is one of those things society will only value when it doesn't exist any more.

    It's so easy for people to spit on the idea of journalism but a free press is one of the most important elements of a democracy and unless people are willing to support and pay for it, then it won't continue to exist. And the idea of that scares me a lot more than a few phone hackers or rogue tabloid journalists. Because a blogger cannot replace a professional journalist in the vast majority of cases.

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    1. I think you're right.
      Although, as journalists start responding to different pressures as the media goes online more I think their position will shift slightly more blog-ward. Everyone will need to pause to have a think about it all.

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  3. Thank you for your post Ellen. I was quite offended when a speaker at Cybher during the discussion on ethics said "if this was a conference for journalists the room would be empty, they'd all be in the pub because they think they know it all already" - for starters, there WERE quite a few journalists in the room, myself included.

    Research shows that journalism is one of the most hated professions, down there with traffic wardens and tax inspectors. And given that the money is generally crap and the markets are shrinking, you can see why many experienced journalists are taking their skills elsewhere. But I agree with Sally, they'll miss us when we're gone.

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    1. I was offended too. Anti-journalist attitudes seem to be deepening, and among people who you'd expect could think a bit harder about it all.

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  4. I do think there's a general 'anti-journalist' feeling at the moment. For a while I hesitated to tell people I used to work on News of the World (and I actually spent six very happy years working for News International).

    Worryingly, I also think a lot of bloggers, and tweeters, assume - wrongly - that the law doesn't apply to them, but of course it does. The laws of libel apply to all of us, as does contempt of court.

    I'm sorry you encountered these attitudes at the weekend - it is a shame. But I'm still very proud to be a journalist, as I'm sure are you. I know I've written stories that have made a difference to other people's lives and that's good enough for me.

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    1. I am proud to be a journalist - that hasn't changed. I think, and perhaps it merits another post, that one of the important things that journalists learn is that the ability to say things in public comes with responsibilities. Bloggers need to take notice of this too.

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  5. Great piece. I've worked as a journalist for over 12 years and have always been very happy in my career and have worked with some incredibly talented and inspiring people. The anti-feeling towards journalism I hope will pass as it's still a fantastic job (even when badly paid) and there's such a hunger for news and good reads, particularly with the online boom. I totally agree with all the above points especially the vital importance of a free press in a democratic society. Sad to hear journalism was joked about at Cybher. I'm surprised.

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    1. Thank you. There seems to be an invasive perceived 'wisdom' that journalists are unprincipled hackers. Like you, I hope it will pass.

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  6. Very good point. There's a lot of complaining in the blogging world about PRs and marketing people treating them unprofessionally - it would be good for there to be a professional respect towards other parts of the writing community.

    And I HATE it when people conflate 'the meedja' encompassing the worst of the Daily Mail when outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC expose these flaws rather than repeating them.

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    1. Thanks. Exactly, imagine if all writers were considered alongside E L James.

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  7. Great post. I certainly agree with the point that there are so many good stories out there, why make it up? I for one have nothjng but respect and admiration for the journalism profession- its a career I allowed to slip through my fingers and have regretted ever since.
    XxX

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    1. Thank you. Take heart, the thing about post-modern journalism is that it is so varied, you could easily have another go.

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  8. Re my comment in last Saturday's ethics panel where I said "If this was a conference for journalists the room would be empty, they'd all be in the pub because they think they know it all already," this was an attempt at humour, I was pointing fun at the journalist stereotype. I appreciate it was probably poorly judged. It certainly wasn't my intention to come across as anti-journalist, an odd stance in any case considering my earlier pro-journalism comments.

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    1. You clearly weren't anti-journalism - on the contrary. As I journalist in the audience there I felt somewhat beleaguered by the apparent consensus.

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  9. As a former investment banker I am a little amused by how journalists are now experiencing the reality of being tainted as an industry despite the fact that most aren't implicated in these issues

    And yes, for the record I wasn't one of those bankers...

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    1. Fair point. The bankers were the last tribe of bogey men.

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