Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Why Bloggers Aren't Journalists??? Who says they want to be or need to be? A Rebuttal to Thomas Fitzgerald.

Thomas Fitzgerald on his "Mac Technology Blog" has an interesting piece titled:

Why Bloggers Aren’t Journalists, And why The Mainstream Press Does Not have an Apple Bias.

Of particular need for dissection are these comments:

[referring to this] ... But what Mr. Scoble has done, because he is pissed at Apple over a macbook needing repair, is to question the integrity of some of the most respected publications in the US and some of the most noted journalists in the world.

Not that I'm defending Scoble ... but what's wrong with questioning someone's integrity? If it is a reasonable opinion without intent of being malicious ... there's nothing wrong. There is however a fine line between reason and unreasonable.

[Fitzgerald]Take the New York Times for example. Regarded around the world as a bastion of true journalism, the real world’s “Daily Planet” if you will. Their technology columnist, David Pogue, one of the most widely known tech journalists in the English speaking world, and Scoble is accusing him, his colleagues, and the paper of pimping themselves for an exclusive with Apple. Apart from the fact that it is absolutely ridiculous, it is highly offensive, both to those hard working journalists and to those of us who value objectivity in their reporting. Is it the fault of the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal that Apple frequently makes good products that capture the attention of the public? Does that mean they are going to bias their reporting to sell a few extra copies.

This is certainly an opinion ... The New York Times, while certainly respected around the world is also known for being very politically left and often pushing a left leaning agenda. I doubt seriously that any of Rush Limbaugh's audience holds the New York Times in the same regard as Fitzgerald does. I don't respect the editors of The New York Times. I do respect Pogue though ... I consider him a standout that is working for one of the world's most reknown publications.

[Fitzgerald] So is he basically miffed because Apple doesn’t treat him and fellow bloggers like a reporter from the Times? (Apart from the fact that anyone can purchase a ticket to the Apple Keynotes at Macworld.) Well, talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. I consider myself a blogger and I don’t get offended because I’m not given a press pass to every Apple event, and I write mostly pro Apple stories. But then I’m not a journalist and certainly don’t claim to be. And with this kind of diatribe, if I worked at Apple, I certainly wouldn’t give him a press pass now.

Apple doesn't issue the press passes for events (usually) ... MacWorld Expo passes are granted to the press from IDG World Expos on a first come first serve with credential basis. The Engadget blog staff gets press passes. The staff from DIGG (before it was a mega hit) was just in front of me and my best friend in line for the Keynote at MacWorld Expo 2006. I have gotten a press pass in years past. Maybe they don't consider Scoble or Fitzgerald worthy of the credentialed first come first served. Scoble doesn't get a press pass as a blogger because he's an idiot. Rarely does he contribute to the promotion or understanding of information or technology. Sites like Engadget and Slashdot (also considered a blog) do. Besides ... seating is finite at these events. Last year's MacWorld Expo had 3 spillover rooms and dozens (possibly 100's) were turned away from seeing the keynote.

I commented on his blog with the following:

I don't think "most bloggers" want to be known as journalists. I certainly don't in my blogging. However, I do want my first ammendment rights protected. The Lanham Act, which will almost certainly be updated with case study of the Apple vs Bloggers case and my own case (Bidzirk vs Smith), is very clear ... it's not whether you are a journalist or an award winning reporter. It is the intent of the article. In other words, did you start a blog solely to cover the hatred you have for a company or is the article posted a pattern of your typical critique where no one single business is constantly singled out? Are there other blogs and information outlets reporting the same thing? The Lanham Act, which clarifies the first ammendment, as it pertains to patent, service mark, and trademark says that ALL FORMS OF NEWS & NEWS COMMENTARY are protected. This would include your typical; news outlets, but would also include blogs. I comment on Apple Computer and eBay news at my BLOG. David Pogue comments on Technology Industry news at The New York Times. While he is certainly more educated than me, won many more pretigious awards than me, and known the world over ... I am no less a commentator or editorial news delivery outlet than he is. A rant about a business, service, company, or product serves as a helpful study for consumers. Most of the time, you can read between the lines of any ranting blog post and see the true intent of the post. By looking at the writing style of the author ... often you can tell if they are delivering useful information or if they are on a maniacal witch hunt so as to defame the business.


Thomas said...

"Who says they want or need to be"
I certainly did not want to offend bloggers. I blog myself. I don't understand how you could take offense by my scathing scoble. It was not an attempt to tar all bloggers with the one brush. But some like scoble believe that they are above the press, that their form of writing is somehow more valid than mainstream journalism, yet they exhibit none of the restraints or cautions that most mainsteram journalists are required to do. That was the point of my piece. Not that all bloggers were bad. I certainly do not think that for a second.

"... but what's wrong with questioning someone's integrity? If it is a reasonable opinion without intent of being malicious ..."

there's absolutely nothing wrong with questioning integrity if you have facts to back it up, but a blanket statement without any evidence about a number of respected publications is not on. He is basically accusing these people of taking bribes - which is a pretty big accusation and one of the fundementals of journalism.

As for the NY times being politically left of centre, I don't see how politics has anything to do with it. I am not from the US, and the Times is considered objective everywhere else. It's generally only considered left of centre by those on the right. But I don't think politics should be brought in to a descussion of technology unless necessary. The world is polarised enough as it is.

As for your comments, again I really think you took offense to an offense that wasn't there. I was not trying to offend bloggers, just those like scoble that think they are above the law as it were. Bloging is a valid form of journalism in it's own right, and I did make it clear that i respect peoples rights to their opinions regardless of whether or not I agree with them. I never for once questioned anyone's first amendment rights. In fact in my second paragrpah I wrote: "is it the anti-apple nature of his arguments that I am referring to? No, not at all. After all, this particular blog is renowned for it’s pro Microsoft focus, and that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion." I find it interesting that you choose to read a freedom of speech into what I wrote.

FYT said...

The New York Times while highly honored ISN'T respected by anyone on "the right" ... you are correct. I think the issue has a lot to do with politics. How can you say that David Pogue comes from a respected news source? Respected by whom? I say he is a standout at the New York Times that is respected by both right and left politically.

Your title is inflamatory ... especially to the search engine trolls. Bloggers are as credible as journalists in my opinion and should have every protection under the first ammendment and any state law provided to a "journalist". I agree that some bloggers (such as Scoble) promote that they are more than they say ... but none the less this makes them no less of a journalist. He just isn't a credible contribution to journalism in my book. Some people would say the same thing about me. Your statement makes it seem as if anyone had the same opinion of me as you and I have of Scoble ... that I am not a journalist and therefore shouldn't receive the same freedom as journalists do to speak about public figures.

The definition in the Nisus Thesaurus for" Journalist" is:

a writer for newspapers and magazines and other news sources

If you refer to the SPJ code of ethics (here or in your piece) ... know that while I certainly follow these code of ethics here ... these "rules" are voluntary.

When you say, "there's absolutely nothing wrong with questioning integrity if you have facts to back it up"

I can make a statement of integrity as opinion without much fact to back it as long as it is reasonable about any public figure or public business that receives foot traffic (or ecommerce) or media attention.

Now, I agree, questioning the integrity of Pogue is bold ... but it is a reasonable statement no matter what the motive is for making that statement. I don't think he does take bribes ... I honestly think he gives fair reviews and notes problems ... but "perfect journalism" would state that you review with the public not specially arranged beforehand priveledged ... the coolness factor alone of many Apple products in pre release can make one bias. I consider David Pogue to be much like Bill O"Reilly, obviously right leaning, but very fair and balanced in his critique of the republican party and of Bush. Pogue obviously is biased towards Apple, but is always fair in critiquing competitors.