Monday, August 20, 2007

Dear Blogger: You are not a journalist.

Dear Blogger at the borough meeting tonight:
Please do not represent yourself as a reporter or journalist. You are not. You are not writing an "article." What you are doing is NOT journalism.

You obviously pushed my buttons enough to get me to write this. As my friends would know, I am a big supporter of bloggers. Obviously. I mean, I write one. But I read blogs, especially news aggregate blogs, where people comment on news stories. I even sometimes read blogs that do their own reporting. I think this all adds to the public discussion, and that's great.

But where I draw the line is when bloggers act and talk like you do and represent themselves as one of us. There are certain standards we stick to that you as bloggers and "citizen journalists" do not need to, or choose not to, adhere to. And this is why we get the reputation we do, as people who like to bend the truth.

Here is where you annoyed me tonight:
--You inserted yourself into my interview with an official. Fine. I do that too, so I can get some quotes, but you did it in a way that interrupted the conversation and caused the official to lose his train of thought. Bad move. Do it quietly.
--When I asked a question of the official, after you rudely inserted yourself, you proceeded to try and answer it yourself. If I wanted to interview you, I would have. I don't care if you know the answer, I am not asking you. Let him answer.
--When asking questions yourself, don't ask leading ones. And don't try to half-answer them yourself, especially when you half-answer them full-wrong. Part of asking questions is sometimes asking dumb ones so you can get the full answer, possibly as a quote.
--To further expand on that, don't interrupt with a RIGHT, uh-uh, YES, YES, as if you know and its annoying you to hear it again.
--The most insidous thing was when you talked about trying to convince your readers. Convince? And then told me you were trying to get your article published in a local newspaper. Perhaps you mean a guest column or an editorial? Not article. We do not try to Convince people of anything. We report what people tell us are facts and let the reader decide. If I tried to convince people, I'd downplay valid arguments, likely with some sort of "but" clause afterwards to automatically discredit it, and, conversely, overinflate arguments for the issue. Are things wrong sometimes? Sure. People tell half-truths or outright lies that are sometimes hard to uncover. That's why attribution is important. Its not me saying anything.

I'm not even going to comment on your method of note-taking on a Sidekick because to each their own. I am going to hope you got everything down, and got it right, cause you seemed to not be typing everything including some important bits.

I know this has gotten long and slightly ranty, but this really upset me and I wanted to clear the air. There is a reason the official kept looking at me like "WTF" and at the end said he was happy to hear I was a reporter.

"Reporter? I like reporters," he said. That's a direct quote.