August 24, 2009

Too much time spent on worthless words, unnecessary definitions

Sometimes, I think I was born an editor, doomed to twitch at mumbo-jumbo and smile at plain talk.

Or perhaps I have sat through too many speeches, meetings and interviews where people dance around the truth, hiding it in complex sentences of $5 words. Or met too many people who talk corporate even when they are out of their three-piece suits. Or maybe I am just tired.

I am tired of the bickering over the health-care proposal, the Mac vs PC debates, the save newspapers by charging for the Internet arguments and "Are you a journalist" after a buyout, if you blog or get paid by a non-news organization.

I cannot believe that the combination of two great resources - Publish2, a share the links and curate the news web service, and Wired Journalists, a self-help group, - means we need to worry about the definition of a journalist. You must be a journalist, untainted by pr, to belong to Wired Journalists.

The editorial standards statement, whitewashed in trendiness, ignores the reality that sometimes food on the table is a higher priority then waiting for the next journalism-sanctified source to purchase your work. Shouldn't the criteria be you want to become a wired journalist or share what you know?

I was happier reading Mark Cuban dissecting a pitch letter of big dreams outlined in "must-use" phrases of nothingness. He starts with the email address and slips quickly into the "saving the world" phrasing. Read it all and don't skip the comments. The American billionaire entrepreneur who knows about startups from experience aimed his blog post at those seeking his funds. I say the audience is anyone who sells products, people or ideas.

Perhaps I can find a tactful way to send the blog post to the person who returned two paragraphs of corporate speak when I asked for help in recalling two sentences of his recent speech. Silly me, I thought I could remember the sentences without dropping everything right then to write them down. But when I got to a time and place where I could write them out, I remembered only parts. The two sentences would make a great elevator speech. I couldn't say the corporate speak in a believable way even if the only audience was reflected in the mirror.

By the way, I've recommended folks read Cuban's "I'm rubber, you're glue" post, especially liking his idea of products to deliver. I also thought post on professional sports teams hiring journalists who work for newspapers was thought-provoking.

The first time I "met him" was through his rant on the ethics of a blogger-journalist.

Also there are other avenues to learn the wired-journalist skills - the CustomCurriculum approach explored in a Save the Media post, the ongoing Visual Editors series, the older Poyntner offerings and more.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mary Ann --

    I've had some good conversations with people like Dan Gillmor and Scott Rosenberg lately about our editorial standards at Publish2 and Wired Journalists, and you can ask either of them what they think of my responses.

    We're wildly inclusive in both those "standards," which we use mostly as a reference point, and in the range of journalists we approve for both networks.

    You'll find freshman journalism students, bloggers, technical writing experts, reporters from some of the smallest newspapers I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and then all the way across the continuum to editors at the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, AP, Reuters, and other international news organizations.

    What you won't find on either network at the moment are pitches, operators of near-splog aggregators that don't have any transparency about what they do or a human being curating the flow of links, or spam.

    If you're looking for places that enable public relations professionals and journalists to connect, there are a few excellent spots for that: PR Newswire, Help A Reporter Out, and PitchEngine among them, not to mention #journchat on Twitter.

    Ryan Sholin
    Director of News Innovation