All this begs the question: should we bother trying to get journalists blogging? Is there a value in it, if they find it hard to move beyond something that sits between traditional journalism and opinion pieces? Can’t we just leave journalists to do traditional journalism and use their work as a jumping off point for discussion around the blogs?
Even in my most frustration-riddled working days, I think there’s a role for the blogging hack here. Long-term specialist journalists have a wealth of knowledge that finds only partial expression in traditional journalism. Blogging can allow them to find an audience for the esoteric they’ve built up over years of reporting on a subject. (I think David Manners from Electronics Weekly is our best example of this.) It can allow them to give additional information around core areas of expertise (and I’m thinking investigative reporter Tony Collins from Computer Weekly here*). And it can be a powerful tool for journalists to connect with a specific group within their readership, as the Farmers Weekly livestock team have been doing on Taking Stock with the breeder community during the current foot and mouth crisis. *
Now I suspect, and experience is beginning to bear this out, that young journalists get this more naturally than most older journalists. But then we have people like Brian Weatherley of Tuck & Driver who blogs happily on BigLorryBlog, proving that the oldies can be the goodies.
So, yes, this is a fight worth having. The big question for professional journalism in the long-term is “will those journalists who don’t join in the online discussions still have a role?” I have my answer to that. So does Roy Greenslade, apparently. How about you?
Just spotted his piece on the pay for top government IT officials. Ouch. Wrong job, Adam, wrong job.)