May 18, 2009

Journalist who blogs says time ripe for new trade organization

Enough is enough, says Danny Sullivan, best known for Search Engine Land but writing on his personal blog, Daggle.

It's time for a new organization to balance the very privileged newspaper industry and ensure that journalists outside the print industry start getting a fair shake, Sullivan says in a post titled "Dammit, I’m A Journalist, Not A Blogger: Time For Online Journalists To Unite?"

It is the idea that newspapers deserve special laws or special protection and Google's help that makes him rant:
"Bloggers got bumpkiss. We have no lobbying group. We have no organization designed to help members learn the intricacies of uncovering government documents. We can’t get government agencies to call us back at all, at times (I know, been there and done that). And we’ve got a newspaper industry increasingly portraying us as part of an evil axis that’s killing them. Blogs steal their attention, and Google steals their visitors."

Let's bond together, bloggers

So Sullivan, who has worked as graphics reporter and editorial researcher at newspapers before building a career in searching the Internet, says its time that journaists who blog need an “Online Journalists Association, or a United Bloggers” or whatever catchy name you come up with."

Some of his ideas for the new group's mission:
  • Ensure the news blogs get an equal seat at any table where news and journalism is being discussed
  • Help promote deeper reporting and recognition of work that already happens
  • Perhaps share correspondents and photos

Newspaper journalists losing fellowship game

Ironically, I read his May 16th post on the same day that I read "Newspapers No Longer Dominate Journalism Fellowship."
"Four of the best known programs - Harvard, M.I.T., Stanford and the University of Michigan — chose 29 employees of American newspapers for fellowships in the year that is now winding down, and just 11 for next year. There have also been declines in the number of people from magazines and wire services, but not as pronounced."

The New York Times quoted James R. Bettinger, director of the John S. Knight Fellowships at Stanford, as saying:
“The proportion of applicants from daily newspapers this year was the lowest it’s ever been. At the same time, 61 of 166 applicants had the word ‘freelance’ somewhere in their job description.”

Is now really the time?

And I know Sullivan is a smart guy so he knows that getting people to join organizations is not the easiest thing in the world.
Look, I'm a joiner - Society of Professional Journalists, Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, etc., etc., etc. But I don't think we need another group.

I do like the idea of more respect, though, for journalists who happen to publish via blogging software instead of newsprint. I agree with Sullivan:
"Many bloggers are journalists, part of the news ecosystem, colleagues that are entitled to respect."


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