Are Journalists Brain Surgeons?

January 29, 2007 at 10:26 pm 2 comments

The Panel at the AAF District conference Luncheon

At the AAF District 10 Conference last week, I got the chance to listen to an interesting panel of media experts. The list included: George Anders of the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Comstock of Yahoo, Patricia Torres Byrd of LAT-TV, and two other men – but I can’t find their names.

The panel answered questions regarding the way their media has changed and all said that their newspapers, radio, TV, journals, etc. were experiencing economic growth inspite of the “horror” stories of traditional media that we read fairly often (some commented that the internet is part of the upswing). Here is a report on MSN about trouble in traditional media.

I did get the chance to ask the panel if they “had plans” or if they “currently integrate” any “Citizen Media” into their companies content. LAT-TV and Yahoo answered “yes”. The others had no plans for citizen media.

George Anders said the Wall Street Journal allows comments and feedback with success but they don’t integrate Citizen Journalists because they aren’t up to The Journal’s standards.

One even commented that, “We go to college for this stuff…. and would you let a citizen perform brain surgery?”

Standards are great, so I think that is a valid reason to maintain journalistic integrity. But brain surgery? Richard Scoble isn’t a journalist employed by a newspaper or major publication yet I believe that he is an amazing source of news. Dan Gilmore and “We the Media” would definitely disagree that you had to be an “in the club journalist” in order to be heard.

I didn’t think the analogy was appropriate at all. Here is why Citizen Journalism should be taken seriously: Citizen Journalists are the source fo the news. They are the voice itself.

I want to hear a companies story from the man in the trench (example: Bob Lutz). I want to hear the Dallas Mavericks story from Mark Cuban. I want to hear about the Mazda 3 door safety problem from someone that really likes cars and understands the industry.

My favorite advertising news site is Adarena is created by Michal Pastier, a student of Marketing communication department of Comenius University in Slovakia. I like the content better than Ad Age.

Just because you can kick my ass in gramar – doesn’t mean that my thoughts aren’t important. It actually makes you arrogant. You might miss something good by hanging on to “worth associated with style” instead of “worth associated with meat”.

Just a warning. Don’t be arrogant. Being a journalist doesn’t make you a brain surgeon or rocket scientist. Being arrogant makes you dumb.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Maybe he should call in the trappers Houston Public Library – Moving with the Times

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed Schipul  |  January 30, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    I am not so sure “being arrogant makes you dumb” (I’ve met a few Doctors along the way who come to mind….). But being arrogant sure does make you vulnerable! Arrogance prevents foresight. Which is why in this panel my bet is nobody mentioned Oh My News.

    Perhaps the secret weapon of citizen journalists is humility. Yes transparency and ethics, but you can argue that journalists also possess transparency and ethics. There are a lot of great journalists out there. How many are humble? I just don’t know.

  • 2. katya  |  January 30, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    It’s old-school attitudes like that which drive me away from MSM. How am I supposed to relate to that as a reader, a writer and an interested member of the public?

    I’m smart, I love keeping up with current events and writing about them — does the fact that I’m not paying for an education in journalism mean that what I have to say and how I say it online make me irrelevant?

    I can (and do) find so many news sources online that are less tied down by potential advertiser and editor biases, lengthy editorial processes and other factors that can lead to less-than-brilliant journalism.

    Argh. This is why I don’t depend on print news anymore… as much as I still savor early morning moments with the Times/Journal/Whatever else I get my hands on. Times are changing…


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January 2007



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