Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What bloggers can learn from journalists

I listened to the commencement speech given at WSU on Saturday by Frank Blethen, publisher and CEO of the Seattle Times. I admire Blethen's defense of journalism, but I think that, by attributing so much of the blame for the newspaper industry's current dilemmas on the internet, (Google and Craigslist, particularly) he missed a chance to talk about how newspapers, online news sites, blogs, and search engines can work together.

Also, it seems clear to me that newspapers, while they have provided and do provide invaluable services to the public, need to think innovatively and creatively if they're going to survive. We're trying to ask our auto industry to do this, the faculty and administration at my university and universities around the country are being asked to do this, and it seems reasonable to expect new ideas and business plans in other industries as well. Blaming Google seems like a real avoidance of the kind of creative thinking that could lead to survival.

Blethen was very dismissive about blogging, and this is understandable. There are plenty of tensions between professional journalism and blogging, and how these tensions play out in the next several years is going to be fascinating. But bloggers, many of whom are interested in driving traffic to their blogs and in cultivating audiences, and some of whom consider themselves citizen journalists, can learn a lot from journalists. Anita Bruzzese, writing a guest post on Chris Brogan's Community and Social Media blog, has a brief and sensible post about this: What Bloggers Can Learn from Journalists.

Journalists may already be learning from bloggers as well - that would make an interesting post, too.

And, if you want to watch the commencement and hear Blethen's speech for yourself, you can take a look at the streaming video.

Edited to add: Stephen Abram lists some good additions to ways bloggers can learn from journalists: Bloggers as Journalists.

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