Blog triumphalism: How blogging changed once journalist’s mind

Is this where I get to say, “I told you so”?

Whenever I write about the need for journalists to start blogging in order to really get online journalism, some journosaur pops up with some snark about blogging and how journalism hasn’t changed because of the Web.

That so misses the point.

Colin Mulvany now gets it. He has discovered how blogging is really different from just slapping repurposed print content on the web and calling it journalism.

I will be honest with you, until I started this blog, I barely understood the concept myself. I was shocked by how many people Mastering Multimedia has reached in such a short amount of time. But what really opened my eyes was how people are finding this blog. RSS feeds, tags, Google Reader, blog rolls, and links from other social networks. It’s about sharing. It’s about a conversation. It’s about Web 2.0.

I now understand. I have been a producer of web content for years on a creaky CMS that only partially takes advantage of the Web 2.0 tools available on any WordPress blog. I just didn’t see the big picture of why this is important for all of us in the newspaper industry to grasp. If I didn’t get it, then how will my non-blogging co-workers, who are already apprehensive about change, ever understand?

If you haven’t already, my advice is to get an education in Web 2.0. Start a blog. Feed it. Share it. Our very survival as an industry will be predicated on how well we interface with this expanding social networking universe.

Sorry for the blogging triumphalism, but I’ve been saying this for like two years now.

If you want to understand where journalism is going, start blogging. There is simply no other way. And if you don’t believe me, start blogging. I won’t believe your alternative view until you do, because until you do, you have no credibility to snark at blogs. Sorry, you just don’t get it otherwise.

Now, if we can just work on Colin’s adherence to Big-J journalism “storytelling” instead of just connecting with video, making video that fits the conversation, then we’ll have a hell of a break through.

(via Mindy McAdams).

UPDATE:  Must-read post from Scott Karp, who articulates very well why journalists need to learn self-publishing tools.

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  • KayDee

    Here’s my Web 2.0 thought for the day. I wish my hometown newspaper decides tomorrow to migrate it’s entire operation onto the Web and blow up the newsroom. That way I can be first in line to buy its printing plant, rehire all those dinosaurs, and start printing my own daily newspaper and survive the coming recession by carting its wheelbarrows full of money to the bank myself. At the end of the day, it’s the print edition that provides the bulk of the content that is driving eyeballs to the Web and to TV news partners. I agree the future is R.I.P print as we know it, but we are a long, long way from the wake. Content, content, content.

  • KayDee

    And blogs aren’t going to provide the content for the revolution, sorry. I just don’t believe it. It’s just one part of the conversation, not THE conversation.

  • Tito

    I hope you don’t dismiss me as a “journasaur” but I would ask that you not treat what I have to say with the same close-minded attitude that you seem to accuse all of us in the business of having. First, I have nothing against blogs in principal. I think they can be a great tool for journalists to us as a way to get a different dimension to a story or event. For example, blogging from the World Series or the Super Bowl gives readers up to the minute analysis for what is going on in a game. However, to say blogging is the Holy Grail of journalism is missing the point. A blog is merely a tool to tell a story — add a different element if you will. The goal of any journalist is to tell a story and present the facts. Our goal should not be having tons of bells and whistles on some fancy blog or Web site for the sake of having them. Journalism is the same as it was when people started formally broadcasting or printing information, only our tools have changed. I don’t need to blog to be an effective journalist, but it certainly helps to have one as an added element if I can’t put everything into a news story. But not every story needs a blog and journalism is certainly not becoming purely a blog. A blog is no more than an online journal or column, if you want to use an industry term. A blog doesn’t make me a better journalist nor does a blog make you a journalist and blogging is certainly not where the industry is headed. Sure 15 years from now we will be making the move to exclusively online content and the blog will simply replace our editorial pages rather than our news sense.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    If you bought your first guitar today, would you go home and tell your accomplished musician-songwriting neighbor, “you know what, this thing is just a tool — this melody and rhythm stuff is highly overrated”?

    Or to put it another way — I’ve been playing poker as a serious hobby for more than three years. I’m only now starting, just starting to understand the game. It’s an exceedingly complex game. That statement will seem like utter nonsense to anybody who has never spent serious time practicing poker.

    Unless you’ve spent actual, serious, thoughtful time at blogging, you’re not going to get it. Period.

    To say that being able to post a few words through a web form makes you a blogger is like saying knowing how to operate a computer makes you a programmer, or being able to hold a pencil makes you a writer. The accomplishment is in getting beyond the tool.

    To say that position is close minded is a cop out. It’s an excuse for not putting in the time to think, explore and learn. It’s an excuse for avoiding the hard work of understanding.

  • Tito

    I see your point, but I think you fail to see mine. A blog is not the melody of journalism, it is merely the amp through which the melody flows. The music is being made by the artist playing the guitar, the notes are coming through the strings that are plucked or strummed in a carefully crafted manor to produce a pleasing sound. The amp is nothing more than what the sound flows through. Sure it is an important part to producing music, but if you have an acoustic guitar, you don’t need the amp. And if you have no idea what you are doing, then all that amp is going to produce is noise. Same with a blog. Anyone can blog — heck, there are Web sites out there so that any Joe Schmoe can do it. But just because you blog, you don’t suddenly become a journalist and just because we have blogs doesn’t mean that we suddenly must use them or lose touch with the business. You need some sort of credibility to back a blog, to make people want to read it and believe what you are saying is accurate. There is no blog that can take the place of good solid reporting. There is no blog that can take the place of good, quality writing. There is no blog that will define journalism. A blog is a place to post ideas and exchange thoughts. The blog will be right along side online video reporting and the main page filled with actual stories. Will papers of the future use blogs extensively? Yes. I’d be naive to think otherwise. Will blogs be the second incarnation of print journalism? No. And you would be naive to believe that.

    Oh, and just to make you even more upset than I already have, Web 2.0 is a buzz word it is not an actual thing. It is just a way of describing the difference between the Web when it first appeared compared to what we do with it now. Food for thought.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    Tito, sorry, but your reply represents an amazing effort to obfuscate and avoid understanding.

    It is a perfect example of why people who have not gotten deep into serious blogging just … don’t … get … it.

    I don’t know what else to say.

    It’s like the four blind men describing an elephant. Since none of them had ever actually seen an elephant, they just didn’t know what they were talking about.

    You’ve never seen the elephant. And it’s right in the same room with you.

  • Tito

    I guess you’re right. We’re two blind men trying to describe something to the other: A tech guy trying to explain technology to a journalist while a journalist is trying to explain the business to a tech guy. I think we can agree to disagree.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    I’ve been a reporter, an editor, a publisher — I’m a former SPJ chapter president — so I’m a journalist, too … I’ve also been a programmer and a web site operator, so I’ve done the tech stuff, too.

    May current job is part journalist and part tech.

    What I’m talking about though is VERY MUCH from a journalistic perspective.

  • http://MPNnow.com Allison Cooper

    I’m looking forward to blogging for the news service as a New York/political voice – any insight you can give me would be greatly appreciated. The balance you are talking about; journalism and tech – is not a concept it is reality.

    Thanks. Allison

  • IIt’s All About Depth

    Howard, I’m late to this conversation but I am simply astounded. You think Tito is “obfuscating” when he talks up the importance of good reporting? The reality is that newspapers provide NO value unless they can offer credibility, knowledge and meaning. Can that come from a blog? You bet! But by and large it comes from the hard work of asking questions, getting answers, connecting the dots, and making sense out of the world for readers. You don’t get that in snarky one-to-three line blog items that merely post links to other items on the Internet. What Tito argues is that form is secondary to substance. If blogs and the web site overall offer substance, then, fine, the industry will follow. But right now the evidence is that blogs, while important, do not give people the depth to keep them coming back for more.

  • http://www.howardowens.com/ Howard Owens

    Tito is obfuscating because he’s purposely avoiding the obvious and making arguments that miss the point.

    You’re obfuscating because you’re putting words in my mouth.

    As to your last point, then way are blogs growing audience about 10 times fast than MSM sites, and have been for the past several years?

  • http://www.rrstar.com Anna Voelker

    Our culture is to write stories for the newspaper, and then when we think about it, post that story to the Web. Instead, we (the media) need to think about the Web well before we start writing a story, taking a picture, putting together a graphic. With blogging, reporters (for starters) are putting information on the Web as they know it instead of hoarding it all for the next day’s newspaper. What KayDee says is true. It’s about the content. I disagree that the print edition drives the eyeballs. A successful news operation will consider the content and how to distribute that content (in different ways) across multiple platforms — the Web, the newspaper, magazines, nondailies, etc.

  • It’s All About Depth

    Howard, I’d be really interested in what words you think I’m putting in your mouth. But more importantly, I’d like to truly understand what part of Tito’s argument you think “misses the point.” He is talking about the need for newspapers to retain accuracy, credibility and depth in the digital age….i.e. “no blog can take the place of good quality reporting and writing.” Sorry, but that IS the point. As newspapers evolve to the Internet, in whatever form, they need to emphasize these unique qualities MORE, not less … otherwise, newspapers are just part of the noise.

    As to your last point, regarding growth of blogs…could it be the MSM was asleep to the dangers and opportunities of the Internet until, perhaps, it was too late?

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