Wednesday 28 July 2010

Are journalism bloggers letting the side down by posting first and asking questions later?

Trinity Mirror Regionals head of multimedia David Higgerson (left) is holding up journalism bloggers to scrutiny and asking "are they letting the side down?"
The focus of his blog is his claim about the way a piece by Cardiff University research fellow Andy Williams, attacking Trinity's Media Wales, on Open Democracy was reported uncritically by some journalism blogs without a response from the company.
Higgerson asks: "How about journalism bloggers upholding some basic principles of reporting and seeking to produce fair and balanced blog posts? Surely it’s the job of a reporter/blogger repeating claims made by someone else to check the validity of what’s being said?"
Although I believe all journalists should try to balanced and fair in their reporting, I think there is a big difference between print and online. When I worked for Press Gazette we would normally seek to get the views of the other side when proposing to run a critical story but we were working to a weekly publishing print time deadline.
With online there are no deadlines but a post can be added to or changed, if it is challenged, or a response carried later - as did the journalism blogs when the editor of the Western Mail hit back at Williams. It's what some people mean by a "conversation" on the web, a continuing story that adds in new detail and reaction in a way you can't in print.
That doesn't mean you can publish anything online. But the Williams piece was already out there, how long should journalism bloggers wait for a reaction before publishing or linking?
Some media companies are notorious for not coming back, one big regional player says only the chief executive can comment, and few have PR departments.
  • Update: Roy Greenslade has responded with a post on MediaGuardian. He says: "This blog is a mixture of aggregation, commentary, analysis, diary items and news reporting. It represents a developing form of journalism as we come to terms with the digital revolution. This platform is very different from print, not least in the way it allows for swift, almost instantaneous, rebuttal and comment from users. It is a forum for the rapid exchange of ideas and views. That is a great advantage, and an advance, over printed newspapers. In content terms, a blog is not a screen replica of a print newspaper. It is journalism in the raw, a live conversation between people interested and involved in a specific topic (in this case, journalism). It does not mean, as Higgerson argues, that we bloggers ignore basic journalistic principles."


David said...

Hi John. Isn't there a difference between asking how long we should wait for a response and whether bloggers should seek a response at all? That's the point I was trying to make. I don't think it makes any difference if the information is 'out there' or not, surely the professional pride of a journalist should win out - wanting to present something as fair and balanced. Otherwise, you're just living up to everything Williams claims goes on in provincial journalism

Jon Slattery said...

Thanks for the comment David.
I know your post was about the way a specific story was covered by some journalism bloggers but I thought it raised futher issues about the difference between online and print which apply to all journalists covering news.