Good reporting is about being a good conversationalist

We fight a lot over the meaning of words. Often.

What is a journalist?

Must you ascribe to certain standards, have been trained in a particular fashion, receive a specific level of pay to be called a journalist?

Does it matter?

I’ve always liked the word “reporter.” To me, it means a person who obtains facts either through research, interviews or observation and reports back to another group of people. The report is generally organized and may or may not contain a point of view (or opinion). But it always has meaning and is informative to its intended audience.

It seems to me absurd to suggest that any person who finds stuff out and tells other people about it isn’t a reporter.

I’ve always considered the best bloggers reporters. Good bloggers gather a bunch of different links, do a little related research and then suffuse their blog posts (reports) with knowledge and experience. That’s reporting to me.

To me, “Reporter” is a noble word, but you don’t need a paycheck or a press pass to be a good and noble reporter.

There’s always been a good deal of conversation in reporting, especially professional reporting. As any beat reporter knows, it’s never about just the one story or the one meeting. It’s about relationships and shared history between subjects, sources, reporter and the interested news organizations (the reporter’s own and the competition).

They only thing new these days is that there are lot more people involved in the conversation.

I would like to associate myself with the following remarks from Scott Karp:

Many people in the news business seem to have a vested interest in separating journalism as it has traditionally been practiced, by employees of news organizations that controlled monopoly distribution channels, from “citizen journalism� or “crowdsourcing� or anything else that represents the evolution of journalism in a networked media world.

So we have “serious, traditional� journalism over HERE, and all this experimenting with “citizens� and “crowds� and whatnot over THERE.

Well, it’s time to call foul on this.

For a couple of years I’ve been saying it’s about the conversation, not us and them.

The future of journalism depends on collaboration, not silos and fiefdoms. Journalism with a capital J needs to maintain standards but it also, desperately, needs to evolve in order to thrive as in a networked media age.


4 thoughts on “Good reporting is about being a good conversationalist

  1. A basic J-School lesson: A good reporter is a good listener.

    So of course, when we do it right, a good, activated online newsroom is a roomful of reporters paying close attention to the conversation around their stories.

  2. “conversation” was a word you used when we first met.

    So was “hamburger” though…

    I guess hamburgers are better when you’re really hungry and there’s really good conversation.

    Not sure what I’m getting at other than my usual humor… but I think there’s a truth in there.

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