2020 Summit: Objective Journalists vs Passionate Blogging

If you read an article about curing cancer by a journalist do you assume the journalist is the expert in curing cancer? If you see a blog, or a group blog, dedicated to writing, creating and discussion cancer cures, would you think the blogger had more indepth knowledge and life experience in assessing cancer cures…

If you read an article about curing cancer by a journalist do you assume the journalist is the expert in curing cancer? If you see a blog, or a group blog, dedicated to writing, creating and discussion cancer cures, would you think the blogger had more indepth knowledge and life experience in assessing cancer cures than the journalist that was assigned to the article? Which one is more objective? Is it objectivity you are looking for? Which one is more passionate and committed to promoting cancer cures? (Specifically. In general we all do). Do you want objectivity or passion engaged in discussing Australia’s future at the 2020 Summit?

Journalists study up on a topic and then:

  • find a Pro (the Minister or Senator),
  • a Con (the Honorable Opposition)
  • and an Industry Expert (me! oh ok, Someone Independent).

Depending on how ‘worthy’ our hack is, the research is a day or two – or months (Four Corners?). This three pronged approach guarantees objective reporting. And then the journalist moves on to the next topic….

Journalists for too long carried the burden of being the only newsource in town, so they had to be objective. As the head of the funnel, we the viewer/reader could only get our news from one source so were not in a position to make up our own mind. Hence objective filtering – appeal to the masses, don’t make waves.

Citizen Journalist start off similar. Find various sources, one blog post, and then another and linkety link. But to hell with objectivity. The only time bloggers willingly run off to find opposing views is so they can have a big ol’ stoush with the opposition, trading insults and dodgy statistics and … passion. Because passion = commitment and focus and some depth. We aren’t here until we are assigned our next topic by the editor. We will blog until our fingers fall off on those topics that interest us. Which could be passing fancies but usually have an underlying theme that links the thoughts and debates together. Mine is supposed to be social networks and social media, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Let’s take an example from recent News. How about a pivotal moment in Australia’s social media history, Corey from Melbourne? Let’s ignore for the moment that Wikipedia doesn’t agree with me on the ‘pivotal moment’ thing (they removed Corey as ‘not notable’ which basically means ‘not made in the US’) – you had two ways of consuming the Daily Corey Delaney News Saga. 1)Objective Reporting from evening current affairs shows (heh) or 2)Social Media Reporting with a deluge of jokes and information and opinions on the ‘net. People ranged passionately on either side of the debate.
*** Good
Corey: oh he’s just a kid, that’s what they do, he gets new media, it wasn’t his fault, he went back in side, where were his parents.
*** And Bad Corey: idiot, arrogant, typical of what’s wrong with kids today/online services/freedom, cost to the public and what’s up with the sunglasses.

Now whether you are pro or con Corey Delaney, and I’m sure some of you really give a stuff either way, it’s not like you didn’t absorb most of the main issues right? I mean, you didn’t need an objective newspaper article to spell it out: X say good, Y says bad and independent expert says Xand Y and Z did you? You just kinda saw all the different views play out on the chat channel or in the comments stream, right? Wisdom of the crowd’ing it.

So do we need objective reporters?

There’s a bit of a discussion over at Larvatus Prodeo On Not Going To The Summit and my Australia 2020 Summit: Where are the Bloggers post was mentioned. More importantly and prominently was the fact that Margaret Simons and Kerry O’Brien were offered and turned down spots as Nominees at the Australia 2020 Summit. Why? Because there journalists wanted to retain the integrity of their objectivity.

So my question to you is this:

  • Do you want objective reporting filtering pro and con arguments so you can have a yes/no answer to where you stand?
  • Do you want a deluge of sources so you can ‘wisdom of the crowd’ it, picking your way through favourite blogs: in other words, research yourself by reading comment streams?
  • Do you want Australia’s 2020 future to be debated by nominees who are objective experts with years of reporting and researching on a myriad of issues, able to take the global view and distil discrete and dissimiliar points of view into succinct and snappy phrases? I put both academics and journalists in this area.
  • Do you want Australia’s 2020 future to be debated by a rabble of bloggers who are knowledgeable and passionate and decidedly one-eyed about their subject matter? On economics, health, education, social networks? πŸ™‚
  • Are bloggers writers and communicators first and foremost? (like journalists are) or are they subject matter experts that happen to write or podcast or whatever?
  • Are some bloggers, career bloggers or Citizen Journalists and some bloggers subject matter experts that just use the writing to highlight whatever they are working on away from the blog? (The “Cancer Cure” blogger isn’t a blogger – he’s a doctor or a scientist first and a blogger last, right?)
Kerry, you are even cuter when you are mad.

Me? I want both objectivity and passion at the summit – I want feisty Kerry O’Brien with his years of experience in chatting with decision makers from around the world and Australia. But I want all of Kerry – not just his objective reporting, not his interview techniques, but that tempestuous Irish soul that got cranky at Channel Seven during the election Tally Room shenanigans. He’s learned a lot over the years, lets see what he thinks. What he feels. What he’s passionate about. There is a time when we stop being of service to others by sitting on the fence and show up, front and centre, for what we believe in. and indeed that may be the time we do the greatest service for our country.

I want journalists to slowly move away from the impossible goal of being impartial and show us what they believe. Ok, start with the impartial but bring the passion somewhere in the article. It’s actually more readable, and we are capable of saying “Oh, ok, that’s what that journo thinks”. I want bloggers to stop pretending to be journalists – we have our own research and knowledge and depth, why do we need to be burdened with an outmoded concept? That we are the only source and therefore cannot express what we believe but hey! Let’s keep it vanilla for the masses?

I want every human being to own what they believe in, without apology and be prepared to discuss, debate and then implement it for the good of both themselves and their social network err society. Stop faking it!

I want to be… ummm…. less emotional and somehow more … objective… in these blog posts. *winks*

NB I haven’t touched on ‘fake’ objectivity in press. This isn’t a slapfest on traditional media. Not today anyway. And I reckon Silgherrian knows what I’m talking about…

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  1. OK, since I’m being poked at with a stick, I’ll commit to responding at length on this topic — perhaps this afternoon, but probably only in the next couple of days.

    However a few key points for me:

    1. I’m sick of MSM trading on “trust” and rubbishing bloggers for not checking facts when their own journalistic methods gave up fact-checking long ago. Perhaps not their own choice, but forced upon them by shrinking budgets and “productivity”.

    2. I’m sick of MSM claiming to be “objective” when they load stories with judgemental adjectives telling us how to think. A headline starting “A shocking report…” is telling us to be shocked β€” rather different from reporting who was shocked.

    3. I think Margaret Simons and Kerry O’Brien are idiots for not doing Australia 2020. In what way would their neutrality be compromised? Do they actually prefer to be on the sidelines and then having to whinge that it didn’t turn out the way they wanted? Both are smart, well-experienced journalists who’d have a lot to contribute!

    You and I are in furious agreement on this one, Laurel!

  2. @stilgherrian did you post? *too lazy to check*

    codswallop is the preferred term.

    What part didn’t you understand dear? Btw, you are now in the 9% (not the 90% or the 1%).

  3. I’m a journalist (newspaper) and a blogger and I have nominated for the 2020 summit.

    As a journalist I try to be objective. I think people want reporters to report, not to give their opinions.

    People can form their own views based on the objective information that’s provided to them. That lends itself to being reported (ie the reaction becomes a story).

    I don’t think people expect blogs to be objective or impartial.

    As for 2020, well I assume it’s about giving our opinions and ideas, not our objective analysis.

    I’m just hoping it’s well moderated so everyone gets a fair chance to express themselves, not just the loudest.

  4. @michael gorey, yay! I’m glad you are bringing YOURSELF to the 2020 summit! I do think the world needs both types of reporting – passionate communication with rich depth and also, cool analysis offering alternate scenarios. I probably wasn’t clear on that in the blog post.

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