Self obsessed journalists?

I’ve come in for a hammering from News.com.au lately. Fun Fun Fun. First we have Sandra Lee quoting me in the Sunday Telegraph: Self-obsessed bloggers caught up in the Net NOW here’s a surprise. People who update their Facebook or MySpace profiles every five minutes are egocentric narcissists who happen to double as attention-seeking extroverts….

I’ve come in for a hammering from News.com.au lately. Fun Fun Fun.

First we have Sandra Lee quoting me in the Sunday Telegraph:

Self-obsessed bloggers caught up in the Net

NOW here’s a surprise. People who update their Facebook or MySpace profiles every five minutes are egocentric narcissists who happen to double as attention-seeking extroverts.

Well, doh! Of course they are. That’s what social networking is all about: worshipping at the Altar of Self.

“The extrovert, they are always going to be updating because the world revolves around them and one can assume that means the world needs to know how they are feeling from minute to minute,” Sydney University lecturer and social networking analyst Laurel Papworth told news.com.au

Only I was talking about extroverted Facebook updaters, not all people who update. Some update regularly to keep their network informed of interesting links and news, to act as a Citizen Editor. I used Twitter as an example of people passing around news articles, especially breaking news of the assassinations and earthquakes. Ignored. Quite a few of my phrases seep in to the piece – gated communities for example – but it’s not representing my views. So please don’t think it is. And I know some of you believe everything you read in traditional media 🙂

And the article then turns into a rant on the uselessness of blogs and Facebook and social media from traditional media journalist, Sandra Lee. Not entirely unexpected – she told me that “Oh No! I don’t use Facebook or blogs etc”. Her exclamations not mine.

Do I even need to explain the positive power of blogs for educational purposes? Of Facebook for passing around News and tidbits of information? That isolated people are better informed than they ever EVER would be by her newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph? That social networks connect not only isolated workers, but also the elderly, housebound, terminally ill? Or even people fed up with the tripe on telly or in the Sunday rag…? It’s hardly worth responding to, except that someone wrote to me a kind email explaining the positive uses of social networking. So this is my response to them 🙂

And here’s one from screenwriter at News.com.au Ewan Maloney who is a linkbaiter in the style of Jonesy or Lawsy. You know, take a skewed angle on something, throw a few flames out and sit back and watch the venom pour in. One way to get readership, especially if you can’t write. He calls into question my title of social networking strategist for myself. *sighs* If you come up with a better title for me, let me know. I really don’t care if my business card reads “head cook and bottle washer” if it gets me more work in promoting, setting up and managing social networks online.

Facebook status updates can reveal your true character

So apparently if you update your facebook status every five minutes you are obsessed with yourself. This from social networking analyst Laurel Papworth.

What is a social networking analyst, exactly? What do they do and how much do they get paid and can they give me a job because I could probably have figured that one out myself, even after the seventh glass of vino.

The article also features Conor Woods, a random executive, with a job title which makes him sound more authoritative than a milkman, I imagine, not least because there are no milkman left, so to speak (actually, I think the PC term for milkman would be dairy product distribution technician). Conor says that people who don’t post profile picture of themselves are trying to hide something.

Yeah, like, their face.

Not wanting to be caught on the hop by an amateur social networking analyst Ms Papworth bounces back by claiming that people are now dumping their partners on facebook, and as evidence of this phenomenon she offers this pearlshaker:

“I know one girl who found out her boyfriend had broken up with her because he changed his Facebook status update.”

I wonder what status update the guy wrote, exactly. Derek is well over Marie and on the prowl tonight? Whatever the case Marie could probably thank her stars that the relationship is over because Derek doesn’t sound like someone you’d want in the room with you when you’re giving birth, not that this is the final assessment of a relationship’s true worth but, you know, basically, dumping his girlfriend on his facebook status update shows that the guy has got the courage of a hamster.

It’s Friday and this is my third post for the day so I’m going to kind of pass out in a bottle of wine.

Try your hat at social networking analyst and see if you can’t get a job too.

My response:

Hi you asked what a social networking analyst does? I’m very happy to answer that smile

I run workshops for companies around the world, on a number of subjects. For example: How to build and manage an online community, how to set up moderator/administrator subcommunities, how to do effective online promotions, How to market using social networks, developing behaviours through rituals and events in communities and so on. I also work with Not for Profits – how to manage volunteer communities online. I’ve just returned from Saudi Arabia where I taught workshops for Arabic women on social media and how to blog – citizen journalism if you will – and I currently teach the social networks subjects as part of a Masters of Convergent Media.

I often open up my corporate workshops to small and home businesses, explaining how to engage and grow a loyal network of vendors, partners and consumers with free social networking tools.

With the growth of online communities (substantial since I started running them 20 years ago!) in the corporate sector, I see it as part of my evangelising and educational role to take part in media interviews, even when I know that it’s a fun piece of fluffiness with Old Media, such as News.com.au. Heh.

Oh and Friends don’t let Friends drink and blog, so put the keyboard down love, and step away from the monitor. tongue laugh

I don’t think traditional newspapers are dead. But I think Old Media need to understand their role alongside Social Media, and pretty darn soon. Australia Media – Just stop it!

By the way, I’m using tinyURL to link to News.com.au articles until News figures out that linking outside of their own site actually works better for them than linking only to their own articles. SEO anyone? Can I ask any bloggers out there to use tinyURL.com to link to News sites too? That’ll learn ’em 🙂

Please let me know if you see any blog posts, particularly by Australians, that propagate the myth that I think bloggers are self obsessed or in any other way useless. I’m interested to see if the blogosphere in Australia supports their own.

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  1. I’ve written about this on my blog, spreading the word that you’re self-obsessed. Or have I missed the point? 😉

  2. I think the important thing to understand here is that the Sunday Telegraph has no particular interest in being objective. It wants to be entertaining and a great way to be entertaining is by labeling people stupid when they do not conform to its idea of its readers.
    Hence the very poor way the story takes Laurel out of context.
    Let’s not have The Tele used as a representative of all journalism, much of which is thoughtful, well-intentioned and well-researched.

  3. aye agreed. And some of my favourite journalists even hang around on Twitter – such as AFR’s Renai LeMay Heh.

    In Australia Media: Just Stop It (above) I talk about the love/hate relationship: that bloggers LOVE journalists, and traditional media articles, quote them, dissect them and pay as much attention as one does to a new lover. It’s just not reciprocated … *weeps brokenheartedly*

  4. Hey Laurel.
    Your experience comes from the school of journalism that decides the headline *before* doing the research and reporting.
    Simon’s point is a good one too.
    The trap social/digital media people should not fall into as a result is to think ALL journalists behave like this.

  5. “By the way, I’m using tinyURL to link to News.com.au articles until News figures out that linking outside of their own site actually works better for them than linking only to their own articles.”

    News.com.au links to outside sources far more regularly than other major news websites. In fact we’ve made it a priority in the Tech section, along with proper credit for story sources.

  6. hey Andrew, well as a number of commenters have pointed out – and it’s bleeding obvious too! 😛 – NOT all journalists are the same (nor are all bloggers). I accept that the Tech section would be more web 2.0 savvy.

    I’ll make a deal. If I see the article links to sites that are relevant, I’ll link directly. If however they are ‘nofollow’ or linking internally, no go.

    I mean, why would Evan talk about me and say “I don’t know what a social network strategist does” when he could just as easily link to this blog or laurelpapworth.com if he really wanted to have a discussion? It’s not like there’s not 26,000 links to me :P.

    NVM. I guess I know the answer to that one…

  7. The trad newspaper media is full of lying hacks that are only interested in seeing if they can get their story on the front page on whatever nasty publication they work for – regardless of the damage they may do to their subjects. They will fan flames, take quotes out of context, lie, get supporting quotes for their view from people who are not given the contextual information, and then misuse the quotes. They will do anything to get a quote to make a story and if they don’t get it they will infer it from nothing. If you give any kind of interview to the traditional media, this is the kind of treatment you can expect. Don’t trust them. Don’t deal with them.

  8. Frustrating as hell!!! Makes my blood boil. Libellous much?

    During the furore about the burlesque dancers at the climate change conference I did an interview for a paper. I talked about how the burlesque dancers had been labelled “strippers” in the media, and explained the difference between stripping and burlesque. The article’s title was about “strippers”. sigh.

  9. I think there is a difference between reporters and columnists. Reporters are trained to report on the news and for the most part do a good job. I don’t see bloggers covering this at all.

    However a huge part of most papers online or offline is taken up by columists. Regardless of whether they are trained as journalists I cannot see the difference between these people and bloggers. Most of the time they are just subject matter experts. So I’m pretty perplexed by the debate.

    It’s quite an emotive issue and I’m quite amused by it. The average person moves on and offline as it suits them. They get what they want – how they want it. I can’t see why not being online is somehow worthy of comment. It’s a little like those people who say they only watch the ABC.

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