Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Monday, May 27, 2002

Paul Andrews says "...blogs should provide full disclosure of their vested interests."

Um, why? Do I need to tell you that I'm not going to attack my employer here? Or my boss? Or my friends?

See, this is the kind of shit we get into when bloggers start pretending that they are journalists.

I am NOT a journalist.

Every fact you see here has not been independently verified. I don't have three sources for every fact. I'm not objective, or even fair, here. If you think I am, you're kidding, right?

Oh, I see Dave is talking about this too:

Professional reporters do the same thing. I have an article in the pipe that goes through exactly this question for an unnamed columnist at a major publication who dares not write about something material to his readers for reasons that are not disclosed. I've spoken about this situation with Andrews. The problem is so pervasive that it's possible that either the term journalist needs a new definition, closer to mouthpiece, or most people who call themselves journalists aren't. I think we have to go there. I won't score many points with the pros. As they read this some of them are surely getting ready to cut me a new one.

I learned in journalism school that all journalists are supposed to be free from commercial bias in their reporting. Of course all journalists are biased. Most are liberal. Most vote democratic. But, most also make about $30,000 per year, so they are very concerned about where their next meal is coming from.

This is why the journalism industry tries to put up a firewall between the economic interests of the news industry and the reader's interests. In newsrooms you hear this called "the separation of church (editorial) and state (advertising and management)."

What Dave is talking about is a journalist who isn't willing to take on the "state" on behalf of the "church."

Well, duh! Here's why that's not shocking to me:

In San Jose, as well as most markets in the United States, there's one daily "mainstream" newspaper. It's almost always owned by a large corporation (almost always that corporation's bosses are located somewhere else, although here in San Jose the newspapers' owners are here -- Knight Ridder's headquarters are here). If a journalist is going to take on the "state" they must be willing to leave the industry altogether because they know they stand a very high chance of getting fired with almost no recourse.

Can anyone working at the San Jose Mercury News take on Knight Ridder? I don't remember reading many negative articles about Knight Ridder, except when its publisher quit because he was concerned by job cuts that Knight Ridder was making. Even then, the reporting danced around the white elephant quite gingerly. No one is willing to stab their boss. Are you?

This is what happens when we let entire industries get into a non-competitive situation.

Due to this situation we get journalists who are unwilling to take on their corporate bosses for fear of losing all ability to earn a living.

The economic world is actually a small place. I know. I've done things to piss off past employers and it's very hard to get your career back in shape once you do that -- particularly when the employment base for a particular kind of job is very small. How many publishers are there in Silicon Valley? How many jobs are there available for journalists? I'll tell you. Almost none. In fact, I believe the number of total journalism jobs are going down pretty quickly.

As consumers of news, we're unwilling to pay for it. That's the game we're in. We want our news, but we're not willing to pay a high price to get that news.

So, we don't get news free of corporate bias anymore. Journalists can't admit that their bosses are assholes. They can't tell you what business decisions they are making that'll hurt their readers interests. They can't tell you what news articles get dropped because of advertiser pressure. (Anyone remember seeing many anti-tobacco articles in North Carolina newspapers before about 1980?)

Add to the corporate bias the fact that journalists are, for the most part, liberal, and you get a quagmire. And people ask me why I don't read a newspaper or watch TV news anymore.

On the other hand, occassionally the journalism industry actually does its job. Here's a great example. Doesn't that article scare the shit out of you? It does me. I am seriously considering becoming a vegetarian because of this article.

12:49:52 PM    comment 

Rob McNair-Huff reacts to my math on digital photography vs. film.

Rob: I totally agree. Digital photography has changed my life as well. I can't imagine ever shooting another roll of film. I guess that's why I'm still shocked that the camera industry is still selling a very large number of film cameras.

I remember being in San Jose Camera about six months ago and listening to one Minolta salesperson (camera companies send reps to big camera stores to help out during promotional weekends). As he wrapped up an SLR sale he said "I'm glad to see people staying with film."

It's like these people are afraid of digital. It's very weird when you meet people who are afraid of change, or who can't see the possibilities.

By the way, Rob's site has some really cool digital photography on it.

I'm thinking of getting a decent camera now. We'll see how it goes. I really can't afford one of those $2,000 digital cameras (which actually will cost about $3,000 once you buy a couple of 512MB cards and a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries, and pay the tax on the package).

12:26:57 PM    comment 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
5/11/2005; 12:32:16 AM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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