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In Defense of Modern Journalism July 24, 2010

Posted by Peter Varhol in Publishing.
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I’ve been what you might call a professional journalist for a good part of my working life, but I’ve never had journalism training or really even considered myself a journalist.  Instead, I think of myself as a technologist who happens to play with hardware and software, and communicate my findings to others.

Over the years, I’ve learned much about technology, technology trends, and technology publishing, not all of which made it into my commercial writings.  So I sought to communicate my knowledge and experience in other ways.  Case in point, this blog.  I’m the only contributor to this content and its presentation, and it makes me no money, so I spend the vast majority of my time on other, profitable activities.

I describe it like this because I increasingly see professional online publications posting articles that are less researched, less formal, and less edited than you might see in a paper publication.  And I see commenters who are increasingly critical of seeing what in some cases is lower quality content, in terms of the extent of coverage, or the use of the language.

Give me a break, folks.  The likes of MSNBC, CNN/Money, Time, Newsweek, and their traditional media counterparts have been devastated over the last fifteen years by the Web, and are responding, albeit not all that well, by getting more content posted more quickly.  In many ways, this content isn’t investigative reporting or features, but rather a conversation with readers that may include some news, some insight, some opinion, and some speculation, in no particular order.  It’s not copy edited and its rarely proofed, but it is fast and often informative and entertaining.

It’s not a feature story in a five dollar glossy print magazine, it’s a blog post using the same WordPress platform that I use.  We as consumers of this content can’t have it both ways.  It can’t be fast and informative, yet fully error-free and fact-checked.  Especially not in this day and age.  And that’s not a bad tradeoff.

And to be completely fair, the writers and editors who make these posts almost invariably have many other editorial responsibilities, and have added (willingly or not) blogging onto their set of responsibilities.  Some look down upon blogging for a variety of reasons, while some embrace it as one possible future of publishing.

But to complain about an occasional misspelled word or not fully fact-checked blog posting, even presented by a professional publishing company, not only defeats the purpose of this medium, but also makes it more difficult for publishing companies to experiment with new methods of communicating information.

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