Journalists and Bloggers

Roopinder Tara had begun discussing how the line distinguishing journalists from bloggers is becoming increasingly blurred. This is surely going to get interesting since he happens to fall in both categories. He intends to write a series of articles on this topic wherein he hopes to find answers to some very interesting questions. As usual, I happen to have some opinions of my own.

Who knows more about the software, blogger or journalist?
There is a reason why my wife knows to cook better food than me and I know to make better software than her. Because she spends a lot of time in the kitchen and I spend a lot of time cranking out code at my computer. Common sense dictates that anyone who spends more time doing something will inherently be better than someone who does it once in a while. Moreover, a normal human being can either be a jack of all traits or a master of one. I find that bloggers usually are masters and journalists usually are jacks. And this works well for both, because bloggers usually write about the software they use to do real work and journalists end up writing about everything.

Who knows more about the industry?
Applying the same logic used above, I would say that the journalists know more about the industry simply because they are out there listenning for something to write about. But with CAD vendors giving equal importance to bloggers, and bloggers engaging the vendors and their customers at different levels, things are beginning to change.

Should bloggers be considered press?
Sure. If the output from both sides is more or less the same, why not? CAD vendors simply need people to make a noise about their offerrings. It really doesn’t matter who does that job. And with the internet, they would prefer that the noise happens online. I don’t think people are in the mood of waiting for next months issue of a magazine to read a review of a new version of a product. Thanks to wireless internet, bloggers blog in the middle of speeches and presentations and even upload photographs. Moreover, even journalists are also doing it now. I would turn the question on it head and ask whether journalists of today should be treated as bloggers. Funny thing is many journalists already are bloggers.

Does the press look down on bloggers?
Do bloggers look down on the press?
I am not sure whether they look down on each other, but I get the feeling that journalists feel threatened by the growing influence of bloggers. And that can lead to all kinds of emotions on both sides.

Who does better in quality? Quantity? Timeliness? Insight?
It really depends on the topic being written about. For technical stuff, I would prefer reading a blog that specializes in that software. For business issues and industry analysis, journalists seem to offer a better perspective. I am not quite sure what Roopinder meant by timeliness. It’s really of no use if a journalist is first to report on something but his magazine is going to take a month to get printed and shipped. And speaking of quantity, for serious bloggers (the kind of people who would like to be treated as press), it would help to tone down the number of off topic posts. Have a separate personal blog if you must share your experiences. I have mine at deelipmenezes.com. The occassional off topic post can help to break the monotony. But too many of them simply adds to the nuisance value of the blog. This is precisely where journalists are looked upon a serious people doing serious stuff – because they are.

What is the role of blogger and journalist in the future?
I would have liked to say that bloggers and journalists will compliment each other in the future, but unfortunately I don’t think things will go that way. As the print media gives into other forms of broadcasting, it seems like bloggers are going to get a larger share of the attention from companies. Autodesk has put the RSS feed of Shaan Hurley’s blog right inside AutoCAD itself. That’s a good indication of where things are heading.

Some food for thought. Readers hardly pay for magazines anymore. Magazines are paid for by the companies that put ads on them, and that inherently puts some obvious and understandable restrictions on what journalists write about them and their products. On the other hand, bloggers have the freedom to be loose cannons. To add a twist, blogs can have Google ads on them which can bring in some revenue. I know that the amount is nowhere close to what can be earned through print ads, but that is not my point. Suppose I have Google Ads on my blog (and judging by the traffic I think I should) and I write a blistering article on SolidWorks. I call them all sorts of names, crucify their software, their business model and curse the air that they breathe. Now I have no control over which ads get placed on my blog. Some fancy Google algorithm decides that. So it may very well be that SolidWorks itself ends up advertising on that particular article since the word “SolidWorks” will have been used many times in it.

Sure SolidWorks will not pay Google anything unless a user clicks on their ad. But the fact that a company’s ad can be associated with something defaming it is something you are surely not going to find in the print media. The internet is a crazy place and thats probably what makes it so powerful.