2008, Journalists & Blogging: A Parting Shot

Reflections on a difficult year working on the intersection of journalism and emerging media.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

So, today’s my last day in the office this year. I’ll write more about the ups and downs of the editorial development effort here at RBI during my OM&HB review of the year next week, but I have to say, this has been the single hardest year of my working life.

A recent e-mail conversation reminded of how difficult it can be doing a job like this in a traditional publishing company. I asked one of my colleagues the reason behind a comment here that seemed, to me, unusually hostile. And he replied that he was merely playing devil’s advocate to my remarks. And in that moment, he caught exactly why I feel so very tired right now.

If you spend your life teaching people in media about social media, about conversational publishing and genuine online community, you will spend a good percentage of your time being told you are wrong. Sometimes it’ll be in small ways of the “interesting but… nah” way, and sometimes in all-out confrontation, which I rather like. And sometimes it’ll be in the soul-sapping “I’ll be all nice to your face and undermine you and your work behind your back” kinda way. But you’ll get some element of it every single working day.

And sure, there’s nothing there that isn’t just part of office politics generally. But you don’t get into a job like this unless you’re passionate about the thing you’re evangelising, and constantly having to defend it against a barrage of negativity can get wearing. Having to defend what you’ve done is one thing, having to continually defend the existence of your own position is quite another.

So, this is Christmas. I’m off to spend time with my (sadly diminished) family, eat and drink, and rediscover my enthusiasm for this fight. And I really, really need to do that, because 2009 is going to be the hardest year in memory for publishers.

And I still, quite genuinely, believe that mixing good, original journalism with genuine community interaction for professional communities is the way that we’ll survive this. And that it will be an even tougher year for me than 2008, because the stakes are so very much higher.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.