Monthly Archives: September 2009

Radio silence: an attempt to explain

I recently realised that I’ve not blogged about journalism for a long time.  My tweeting, too, has been mainly of the non-journalistic type, except for sharing the links I find most interesting on Twitter.

So I’m wondering why that is. It’s not that I don’t have opinions; I do. I have thoughts about restructured newsrooms,  about paywalls, about tweeting the news, engaging with readers – you name it, I’m opinionated about it.

Yesterday I was particularly exercised about Google’s Fast Flip and how all the reaction I’ve seen has been about how it serves newspapers and not how it serves consumers of news (which in the end is surely what will decide if it’s successful  or not?)

Today it’s the way someone in my office has asked me, as a notorious heel wearer, what I think about the TUC wanting to “ban heels from the workplace”, a misinterpretation of the motion written so hilariously about by the Times today that has become “news fact” because a bunch of journalists thought it was funnier to pretend that what’s the TUC wants, so much funnier they completely ignored the quote from the TUC that said that wasn’t what they wanted at all.

But for some reason I’m reluctant to share.

Partly it’s because I know opinions can get you into trouble.

First, Twitter: A brief but unfortunate appearance in UKPG (pre-rising-from-the-dead) reminded me that while I might feel there’s a culture of trust amongst the people I follow, not everyone feels the same way.

You never know who’s reading, or how they might choose to repeat what you say. And yes, I could protect my tweets, but that excludes me from the wider conversation which to me was the point of twitter in the first place.

Then I lost a follower (yes, just the one) for reasons I’m not sure about but can guess at, which for me underlined the futility of having a presence in a media where people might expect me to express an opinion without being able to say what I really think.

And sometimes I find myself agreeing with Steve Jackson’s pov about Twitter and the media. The opinions I find most interesting are often those of non-journalists (because I think Tweeting journos can sometimes suffer from as narrow a world view as those who say the internet is killing newspapers)

Then there’s the difficulty of working in online in a traditional newsroom. I am often frusrated by our approach to, and execution of, news online, but blogging about it will not solve that –although I’m sure others out there would find it informative, if not helpful.

And then there’s my general uncertainty about newspapers and journalism in general. Maybe I’m reading too much Enemies, too much Bad Science. Maybe it’s the way that stories that would be a nib on a printed page get equal billing with leads on a website (especially when you come at a story from a link),  and the way that skews the view of readers about what we as news organisations stand for/care about.

I read the Guardian interview with Max Mosley and agreed with him that his private life is none of our business. I watch Glenn Beck on Fox News and wonder if Fox would be allowed to get away with it here – and then I read something by @antonvowl and wonder if what he’s outling is that we’ve already got our own Fox.

And sometimes I wonder if we’re asking the right questions when it comes to ‘saving journalism’, confusing what has always been a business with our own altruistic notions that we’re a public service.

What if it’s as simple as “what the people want, the people will pay for”? And what if that’s not the kind of reporting we want to do, or think we should be doing?

And I’m tired of the squabbling about if, what and when we load to the web that distracts us from all the exciting, innovative forms of storytelling we could be trying, all the things that digital journalism could and should be.

In short, I’m struggling to find anything nice to say at the moment. I’m feeling picky and prickly about what news I consume and to be brutally truthful quite often I wonder when (not if) I’ll end up doing something else instead.

It may be that all I need is a holiday.  (which is lucky, because I’m about to go on one). It may be that I’m just suffering from plain and simple resistance to change. Or maybe it’s just writer’s block.

Whichever it turns out to be, I’m going to make an effort to resume blogging when I come back from my holiday next month.

Hopefully I’ll find something positive, forward thinking and useful to say. ..