NB: There’s an EDIT UPDATE at the bottom about this debate.

Click on it, I dare you. “Forget Objective Reporting” AFR Feb 2006

I feel sorry for The Australian Financial Review, I really do. Out of all mainstream media, they get this web 2.0 thing the least. And it’s our only daily financial newspaper. *sad* The poor poppets.

That clipping above is from February 2006 – I wrote to AFR saying that (in case you can’t read the picture):

“…aren’t collaborative journalism, web 2.0, user generated content , personalised media and so on and so forth, the buzz words for a very old concept in media – TALKBACK? “

So it was with some amusement I read in today’s Australian Financial Review that our Prime Minister, John Howard said:

“When talkback radio first came into vogue, it was wise for people to begin using it, just as when pay TV picked up, it was wise to use it- so it is in relation to this,” he said.

Yep, my question to the The Australian Financial Review is this: you wouldn’t listen to me 18 months ago, but will you listen to Little Johnny? No? Guess not.

Why is it important?: I’m wary of that new book The Cult of the AmateurHow today’s Internet is killing our culture, by Andrew Keen. I tried to buy the book a few weeks ago but it hadn’t been released in Australia (although our traditional media had reviewed it). Which opens it’s own can of worms about the publishing cycle – hey, if you get a copy, lend it to me? I’ve spent my book allowance for like, the next 5 years. πŸ™ Umm back to topic:

Keen’s relentless “polemic” is on target about how a sea of amateur content threatens to swamp the most vital information and how blogs often reinforce one’s own views rather than expand horizons.

I guess what he is saying is that professional quality newspapers, with professionally trained journalists are a professional resource for gathering and distributing *facts* about Web 2.0 than a blogger who has hands on knowledge of that area. In spite of the fact that said newspaper journalists often don’t blog or believe in collaborative journalism (make blog readership part of their KPIs). And in spite of the fact that the Left will buy Left-wing polemic papers and ditto the Right.

Are professional journalists better able to collate and disseminate information on science, health, education, arts, creativity, economics in spite of the only training they have is in collecting other people’s words? Is the journalist writing other people’s words the amateur or the professional? Is the Nobel Peace Prize blog more or less knowledgeable on what they do, than a journalist who has no knowledge and even less interest stuck with covering the event? Is the lone independent voice of a Queensland senator who is blogging on the issues as he sees them for his constituency less valid than a journalist schlepping into a press conference? I don’t believe there is such a thing as unbiased reporting. And if there was, I wouldn’t want unbiased reporting. Even if it meant we might finally hear stuff in the ‘unbiased’ mainstream press that doesn’t:

  • discount user generated content as user generated crap,
  • that social networks are for geeks, emo-kids and paedophiles
  • that collaborative knowledge is full of inaccuracies

and so on.

I want passionate, knowledgeable writing that clearly takes a view and argues it. Writing that hasn’t been through the refinement and editorial process. If I agree with what is written, I want to be able to comment back that I agree. If I don’t agree, I want to be able to comment back what a wally the writer is. Or move on to another passionate committed writer. If I don’t care what’s being said, well, I’ll look at the pictures and then move on. πŸ™‚

I’d love to find a case of an Australian blogger or bunch of bloggers breaking a story wide open – there was that one in the States, called Rathergate or MemoGate. Have we had one here? It’s not only trained professional journalists that can do investigative reporting and then write about it, is it?

Just call me Nancy Drew, Girl Reporter.

EDIT: News just in. The lovely Rachel Slattery sent out in her newsletter, SlatterysWatch this:

DebateIT: Blogging is as Useful as Talkback Radio Wednesday 12th September; 6.00pm – 7.30pm; Lecture Theatre, Museum of Sydney. Join us for an informative discussion about blogs – what they achieve, what they don’t and what they will! Confirmed speakers include: Graeme Philipson, Founder, Connection Research; Chris Gilbey, CEO, Vquence Pty Ltd. More details here.

Chris Gilbey has a blog at Perceptric – I think I blogged about them once before? *too lazy to search her own blog* which for some strange reason, they call the blogs ‘forums’. Graeme Philipson is of course, the guy that wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald and which I commented elsewhere

I don’t blog. Can’t see the point, when I write this column and others. I also rarely read them – the letters page of this newspaper and the many emails I receive is for me more than enough exposure to the unfiltered opinion of the common man.

My vote is to bring in some smart sassy and somewhat vitriolic blogger to participate- one of those from the old SpinStartsHere, from when it was a group blog (few to many). Maybe Hack or Cathy or whatever her name was? Now of course Spin Starts Here is a PHPBB forum (many to many) so doesn’t really fall under talkback radio metaphor; and as such, has lost a lot of it’s bitchy appeal. Who do you think, as a blogger, represents the best and worst of “Talk Show Host Inflaming Audience Dialogue”? Shall we go? We could meet for a drink beforehand and then go in and throw things at the Debate Team – wadjareckon? πŸ˜›