Media, TalkBack Radio and Professional Amateurs

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*…

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˜›

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  1. Centralized authorities often marginalize distributed threats by referring to them with pejoratives.

    “Closed Minded”

    Oddly though, the last two are what everyone says about professional journalism.

    So do you trust the Closed Minded, Biased Professionals or the Closed Minded, Biased Amateurs?

    Ultimately, professional media will need to learn that those stupid blogging weasels are their readers.

    Insulting your clients is often a bit … counterproductive.

  2. “Ultimately, professional media will need to learn that those stupid blogging weasels are their readers.

    Ah but the no-longer-paying readers. Or the paying in ever diminishing numbers. It’s a bit like the end of the relationship. The one where you say hon, we need to talk … I feel like you never listen to me, so I’m packin’ up. And they (journalists or boyfriends) get bitchy about it. I wonder how derogative radio was when TV took hold? Probably full of the doom of going blind if you watch too much tv.

  3. Oh! I hope we never reach that point.

    The no-longer-paying readers are no-longer-paying because newsprint isn’t a compelling product any more.

    Magazines and books are selling.

    The no-longer-paying readers don’t like the packaging, not the content.

    Mainstream media needs to explore micropayments.

  4. Despite the fact that I am a blogger myself, I can understand to a degree where that point of view is coming from. I get a little frustrated listening to talk back radio as often I feel as though I know as much if not more about a subject than the people I’m listening to and frankly if I am going to pay attention to someone talking I want to be actually learning something. That said, I do find blogs like TechCrunch to be far superior in reporting on their little corner of the business world than tech sections of many Australian papers. On more than one occasion I have read a headline in that i had heard about on TWiT and BuzzOutLoud a week and a half ago.

    Blogs that focus on a very particular topic are great, but there are only so many “I want an iPhone” post i can read on friends blogs before I decide there are better ways I can be spending my time.

  5. Jake, change channels poppet. ABC has some decent interviews. There are some intelligent articulate talkback – prolly not Lawsy and Jonesy πŸ˜›

    Have a look at this video user generated ad for the next election – the comment about reporting the mundane to talkback was funny. πŸ™‚ And I wasn’t talking about the crap my friends blog on and on about πŸ˜› I was talking about professionals in their field that blog – could be maths, could be nano-tech, could be relationships.

    Jimbo – totally agree about the micropayments. I blogged a couple of years ago about the need for a media NewsDollar online or a Yahoo!Yen. Dunno why they didn’t listen. πŸ˜›

  6. There’s a big difference between old-school talkback radio and the new open conversations on the web.

    Naked Conversations (or whatever you want to call them) are genuine responses to incoming information.

    Many from the old school are after sensationalism, scandal and scripted interaction. Not just in radio, but also TV such as Today Tonight and A Current Affair.

    The new generation of talkback is the replies to videos on YouTube.

    Real conversations are not filtered or cleaned up.

  7. Naked Conversations (or whatever you want to call them) are genuine responses to incoming information.
    gosh hon I wish that were true. And I think for most bloggers in the Australian Blogosphere it is. But we will get a flame troll, or linkbaiter sooner or later, like they have in the States etc. Actually someone told me the name of a particularly vitriolic blogger the other night at Geek night but I can’t remember… πŸ™

    Think Perez Hilton. Or even, Robert Scoble who is a master at rousing the blogosphere on both sides of a debate. Push, inflame, incite, cajole, – the social network does get tired of drama queens but Alan Jones et al aren’t always “on”, sometimes they just talk about normal things in a normal way too. But the compelling emotive and passionate debates are the ones that create an audience. I’ve seen it on my own blog and it’s a dangerous magnetic black hole to be sucked into always creating drama to gain readership.

    Must. Resist. Temptation. To. Create. Arguments. Oops, too late πŸ˜›

  8. Oh wait, Cait, I see what you mean. Today Tonight keeps editorial control whereas shock jocks will take anyone on in an on-air punchup. yep agreed.

    Some bloggers/YouTubers do manage the moderation of comments very well – have a look at Maryanne (ysabellabrave) Deleting Comments video. It’s hilarious. πŸ™‚

  9. There will always be those get their attention by noise rather than substance, but to the younger generations who live with constant media saturation and have been bombarded with misleading advertising for their entire lives, it’s just a bad signal/noise ratio.

    When there’s unlimited choice, information static static is a turn off.

  10. Oh I personally find Cash for Comments rewarding. πŸ˜›

    Oops, I’m sorry, scrap that. I meant to say.. talkback is useful to give the great unwashed, the eyeballs of traditional media, A VOICE. Excuuuuuse me what was that? Speak up! WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY HAVE A VOICE IN BLOGS etc. Sorry, I’m hard of hearing. heh. πŸ™‚

    How are you Katie dear?

  11. Actually, on the offchance that Katie wasn’t being flippant, or that others may be interested:

    First, remember that people consume their communication in two ways: synchronous and asynchronous. So, for some people if the interaction is not immediate – voice (mobile phone), SMS, an instant messenger and so on, you aren’t going to connect with them. Others like to stop and think and often let the phone go to voicemail, disliking being put on the spot. They prefer email and letter writing and so on.

    Second, marketing is one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many. And we know that people prefer different types of interaction -some like the managed content of one-to-many. Others like the intimacy of one-to-one. Radio is an odd one – it gives the caller an illusion of one-to-one. After all they get to talk to the host directly. Not many traditional communications can do that. But it’s probably one-to-many for the host – s/he controls the subject. For interactive podcasts, it’s few-to-few: me and my small audience ring in and chat about gardening, books or social networks. But perhaps the most important part, in marketing comms terms is that (according to NLP etc) people have a general preference for different types of media and they switch in and out of that mode during the day. In general: some people like the writing/reading (text or words I guess), others are visual (fotos or videos) still others are auditory (radio). We may prefer the radio in the morning on our way to work, reading material in the office and books at home and occasionally move into visual mode when tired (the tv). Which is why we advertise on such a broad spectrum of media. Radio and interactive podcasts cater to the auditory, one-to-many or few-to-many criteria. (I’ve written before about putting blogs in the one-to-many, and forums in the many-to-many etc exercise).

    Which brings me to the last part – content. Talkback is not all about picking a subject for flaming/trolling/linkbaiting (in internet terms). It’s also those radio stations that present shows on health, and gardening and book reading clubs and topical issues of the day. Steven Lewis has a podcast on “Friends of the Rules” or something. He solicits questions and answers on how friends should act/not act. It’s not interactive yet, but that’s just a matter of time. πŸ˜›

    Incidentally, I’m not an auditory person – I can’t stand background no noise, haven’t listened to the radio since I was a teenager (and only then so I could pirate songs and tape ’em) and pace if I have to listen to a podcast. And I mean PACE. But I can talk. OMG Can I talk! πŸ˜› Still, when sending out a marketing message, I try to remember that this demographic of one ain’t the most important demographic. And as always, YMMV. (Your mileage may vary).

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