Back in the day, I served a couple of years as President of an international journalism group. The Computer Press Association was a collection of people who, as the name suggested, wrote about technology and took the tenets of journalism pretty seriously.
I’m not a journalist any longer, but I feel qualified to discuss the subject, as I have here on several occasions. And I can honestly say that at this point I’m having a hard time deciding what journalism is.
Former TechCrunch write cum venture capitalist MG Siegler? Not a journalist. Never was. Siegler is a great writer, but he’s nothing resembling unbiased, which in my opinion is one of the most important delimiters for any journalism/not journalism debate. Of course, in the Internet age, with even writers for large newspapers concerned about click rates and things like Search Engine Optimization, it’s pretty easy to argue that journalism is dead.
And what about SEO? Is Search Engine Optimization a vile aberration of bad communication, or is SEO a valid form of communication?
So: remembering that at this point we’re all bloggers, are bloggers journalists?
An Android app through which anyone can sell their “newsworthy” photos and videos suggests that they are, and that it’s potentially a good thing. On the other hand, the idea that famous writers/bloggers/journalists are for sale casts the question in a whole different light.
But what’s “for sale”?
Looking back once again to my time helming The Computer Press Association I recall an incident where I spoke with Stewart Alsop, now a venture capitalist but then the Editor-in-Chief of InfoWorld. I called Stewart out on the fact that InfoWorld had just run a long comparative article on database software, anointed Microsoft Access as “the best”, and that on the page facing the write-up of Access, right in the middle of this sixteen-page article, Microsoft had taken out a full-page advertisement for … you guessed it … Access.
Alsop swore to me that the ad showing up in that specific location of that specific issue of InfoWorld was a complete coincidence. As I said then, “OK, Stewart”.
Journalism is about being fair and balanced (to borrow the phrase that FoxNews—which clearly is not—likes to apply to itself), but those comparatives, like the word “unbiased”, have blurred. So ultimately all of this comes down to trust. And even trust—especially trust—is subjective, and earned.
Business Change and journalism, blogging, and whatever other part of this you want to wrap into the package are hard to get a handle on. Sometimes, you just need to go with your gut.