Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Today's Homily: Media Content via Bloggers

I went a bit off-topic yesterday talking about my movie addiction. But like I said in one of my earliest posts, "My blog. Mine. Mine." So here we go again...

My best girl went to a presentation today by the CEO of the company she works for. She's an editor for a magazine -- one of scores that the publishing conglomerate puts out. And this is what she had to say about the CEO's presentation, with slight revisions within brackets to protect secret identities:
The presentation was interesting. I expected the CEO to be a silvery-haired guy -- instead he looked a little like the guy who is going to get married in the movie, Sideways, the good looking guy. He said good things about the company and there was no bad news. There are a heck of a lot of [genre] magazines [our company] puts out -- gotta be at least a hundred, in a huge array of areas. For the editorial groups that put them out he sees editors becoming, get this, "community builders," relying on "citizen journalists." Aka bloggers. Well, I know bloggers are doing a lot of great things (among them is your blog), but I think there are only so many good writers and good content experts out there and the rest are all wannabees. To me, it's just another hot topic that will be replaced in a few years with another gimmick of the month.
I found this to be an interesting comment. However, she doesn't read as many blogs as I do, so I had to respond:
There are a lot more brilliant bloggers out there than you know. I'm a real hack and a wannabee compared to these other thousands. Trust me. I could give you fifty links of absolutely talented bloggers so you can see and read for yourself. It's true that there are only so many of them, but they are the true trend-setters, cultural observers, and investigative journalists -- even discounting the tin-foil-hat-wearing freaks, the evidence-lacking dot-connectors, and the paranoid conspiracists. The writers working for newpapers and magazines, for the most part, have their jobs because they are conventional and predictable. The best and most promising aspect of all these bloggers is that they are not beholden to anyone. Newspaper reporters and editorial writers are all kept on a tight leash by their publishers, senior editors, and ad salesmen, and most of them are lazy and in-the-box thinkers to boot. The political bloggers, in particular, are an amazingly analytical, edgy, and insightful group and they do actual reporting and interviewing and in-depth investigations that rarely get reported by the MSM (mainstream media). For your CEO to say what he said is impressive and insightful, not a case of spouting the latest hot topic trendiness.
I am personally encouraged to hear that a CEO of a moderate-sized publishing empire is suggesting that bloggers could some day soon be contributing in a big way in the production of MSM content. There are truly thousands of bloggers out there who deserve a wider audience. My inner cynic might suggest that the CEO is only looking at the bottomline -- hiring freelance writers to produce copy is cheaper since the company doesn't have to provide training, benefits, etc. But cynicism ain't what it used to me for me.

The biggest problem that I can see is that once these bloggers begin to contract out their voices to publishing empires, they take that first step to becoming beholden and leashed -- and then conventional and predictable -- the classic slippery slope... at least that what the cynic inside me says. "Old and busted" habits of thinking are hard to break.


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