Friday, June 27, 2003

Eric Muller on journalists, access, and Sandra Day O’Connor.

9:49:34 PM    comment []

Derek Willis wondered how I got access to Rick Boucher for an interview. It’s a good question that has implications for the future of weblog journalism. If webloggers are going to be reporting news, then how can they get newsmakers to speak with them?


Boucher (and his press aide) took my call because they get the Web better than most public servants. Still, it probably helped my credibility that I could tell them about my day jobs as a magazine reporter and newspaper columnist.


There are lots of reasons not to agree to a weblog interview. People have a limited number of hours to speak with the press. What’s more, they don’t know if some random blogger understands the rules – what’s off the record, not for attribution, etc. And to understand the context in which the work will appear, the interviewees will have to do a little research of their own.


Access is one area where the traditional press has a huge advantage – it’s a reason I’d love to see more press-branded bloggers. In fact, one of the obstacles to big-pub blogs, the practice of editors editing their writers for consistency of tone and worldview, is in this case a positive, because it provides an  important reassurance to interview subjects.


Bloggers hoping to snag interviews should understand their role before they pick up the phone. You’ll have to establish your own credibility. Be ready to explain what a weblog is (don’t get too technical, just say a website), who you are, what you’re doing. Learn the terminology and rules of on/off record, and honor your agreements on the subject. Know your subject, and don’t waste people’s time. Be patient and polite, sweet-talk the receptionist, and learn to deal with rejection. In short, be professional.


Access will get easier as weblogs become more widely known, but it will always be an issue, as it is for most reporters.

7:24:59 AM    comment []

This article on The Grapes of Wrath is fascinating. Not all of the economic analysis worked  for me – something tells me we’ll all be forced to sell our labor power again five minutes after any Marxist millennium – and I had a little trouble with the use of the word “racist” in this context, but it’s a rigorous rereading of the book and its era. Full disclosure: the author is my homeboy.

7:07:12 AM    comment []