Monday, 27 October 2008

Bloggers asking questions that matter - how dare they!


I've just been on a wander through the blogosphere looking at blogs which don't have the honour of having a place in my Google Reader.

What I discovered was bloggers actively (and sometimes viciously) discussing what we do ... and how we do it.

The overwhelming consensus is that not only are we doing it wrong, but we are doing it badly.

These bloggers think regional and local newspapers and websites fail to get to the crux of the stories and issues that effect them, and they also think that mainstream media are far too easily bending to pressure.

There's nothing new in these accusations, but now these complaints are reaching an audience of their own - thanks to the blogosphere. What would once have been a grumble down the pub, is now reaching people, and gathering weight.

Some of the accusations I have picked up on:
  • Reporters are not asking the relevant questions
  • Newspapers are in the pockets of local authorities
  • Newspapers are in the pockets of the main sports clubs
  • At my local paper, journalism has been replaced by churnalism
Yikes ... and this is just a few of the many.

So what do we do? Ignore them and hope they go away? Turn the other cheek? Or do we invite them in to listen to their concerns?

The latter.

There was one time when newspapers could file complaints of this sort in the bin, but now these complaints have a platform of their own.

And to be fair, perhaps some of their points are fair.

For instance is the relationship between sports clubs and media outlets too cosy? I'll stick my neck out and say yes.

If a newspaper doesn't play ball, then it doesn't get access. So can a local paper, which depends on football for sales, really rattle the cage and risk losing the exclusive cosy fireside chats with the ball-kicking star? Or can it really question the latest press release from the club's spin machine?

Yes, and yes. As journalists we have an obligation to ask 'the' questions and we have an obligation to demand 'the' answers. That's what we are there for, and that's why readers return to us time and again. To fail to do this, is to sacrifice our readership.

Our readership is out there talking about what we do, and it's time the newspaper/media industry listened.

Suffice it to say, these blogs now have pride of place in my Google Reader.

1 comment:

Alison Gow said...

Hi Kev, great post! I think it's so important to go 'off piste' in Technorati or Boardreader (for example) looking at what people are saying about our industry - it acts as a very sharp brake to the ego for a start!
Interesting point about the relationship between sports clubs and journalists; I remember the comments when Chris Bascombe joined the NoW - fans took it very personally, almost as a defection from the paper and club. Of course, joining News International didn't help his cause...
However, as you say, listening to the criticism is vital. It's not necessarily enjoyable but we have to know what's being said about us and not take it personally. Learn from the criticism, and get better because of it.
Journalists aren't really so good at listening to criticism, possibly because we've spent so long telling people the way of the world. It's changed... we need to as well. Quickly.