Wired News columnist Adam L. Penenberg contacted me as a source for his excellent piece, Heartaches of Journalist Bloggers. My contribution did not make the final cut (I'm an editor, too, so I know how that goes). But one great thing about bloggers is that we even throw the leftovers out there. So, with Adam's permission, here is some of our exchange:
I write a weekly media column for Wired News and have question for you: How can bloggers, whose success depends on sharing unvarnished opinions, also work as so-called objective journalists? Should readers be suspicious of bias in a journalist's work if he shares opinions via his blog? How can reporters bridge this gap?
Thanks in advance...
Well, part of the reason my blog is popular is because of my background as a journalist, and the expectation that my opinions are, as you say, "unvarnished." This is especially important in a niche area like nanotechnology -- a science and "business" that is so young that there isn't even general agreement on what nanotech is and what it is not. What I do is not just spout out my opinions, but use them as a catalyst for discussion.
There are other nanotech bloggers who have their own agendas as venture capitalists, investment advisers, scientists and others, and their voices are important parts of the mix. As I've written in my blog before, I think all blogs should be seen in the context of who's doing the writing, and why. What do they know? What's the agenda? Where do they get their information?
I've carved out a reputation as somebody who can get discussions going because I'm a journalist who has no personal stake in the financial future of the companies covered and can take a broader view of nanotech from the point of view of somebody who was not only a columnist even when I was with a B to B publication, but was a news editor who directed coverage of the industry and has a good handle on the competing interests and agendas.
To me, this is how you really build an "industry." First, you build the communities from the bottom up and get these discussions going.
I'd never propose replacing traditional journalism with blogs, of course. Part of what my blog does is also promote the journalism work I'm doing.
Thanks for your thoughtful answers. Much appreciated.