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March 09, 2006
New York Times and Edelman: A Step Back
Still now, reading the discussions going on online about the story the New York Times did about Edelman and how it's working with blogs, I feel the need to take a step back and consider what I feel the real takeaway from the story is. The basic issue I still see is that printing a press release or an email word-for-word doesn't make sense for anyone involved, unless you say that's what you're doing.
I don't think this is the Times turning a non-story into a story or that it's a sign of the Times still seeing blogs as a threat. They have reported on this kind of thing before, such as when they reported on TV stations simply running videos packaged as news and distributed by the White House. But I also don't think it means that companies shouldn't work with blogs.
I don't think it's a non story because one of the keys strengths I love about blogging is that it gives you the ability to express your own voice. I think that becomes compromised when you repeat something word for word without sourcing it. And I don't know about you, but I agree with Umair Haque at Bubblegeneration that eventually this lack of transparency will out, and it will hurt not just the bloggers, but the companies working with them like Edelman.
The issue of reporters' credibility is of course an issue this days. And being skeptical of the press makes sense. But asking the traditional press to lay out who they meet with, how many emails they get, and what they think of them is sort of the same thought as asking traditional reporters to lay out all their bios, such as who they voted for, where they went to school, or how much they make. You think it will give you a picture, but it will only give you a lot of data points to interpret in many different ways.
The very basic thing about being a reporter, either in the traditional press or among blogs, is that you need to talk to many people on any story. If a reporter doesn't do this, sooner or later, through exposes like the Times, or criticism at blogs, you'll be exposed for toeing a company line.
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I completely agree with you on this topic.
What bothered me most in this story is the fact that the bloggers sounded like just the mouthpiece for Wal-Mart. In another comment I made on Buzzmachine, I wondered if the bloggers in question were paid to place the story.
Have a good week-end
Posted by: Serge Lescouarnec at March 10, 2006 09:51 AM
Granted, I'm 11+ yrs. removed from my day-to-day journalism work (I'm now in PR), but the only information that should NOT be attributed are facts and observations from reporters. Otherwise, cite the source. Right?
As more PR pros and corporate communicators reach out to bloggers, there'll be an educational process on the part of bloggers. The traditional media are used to being "pitched" and can weed out the junk from the worthwhile news. Bloggers -- still primarily amateurs -- will improve their "BS" radar.
And, that is a good thing for the PR industry.
Posted by: Mike Driehorst at March 10, 2006 01:53 PM
Great point and I absolutely agree. In fact, I was thinking about that last night at home. If a fact or opinion is being asserted by someone other than you, then you source it. Really glad you brought it up.
Posted by: Heather Green at March 10, 2006 02:27 PM
Before we blast and put everyone in the same boat, understand that it really depends on WHAT THE BLOG IS ABOUT. On my own blog, http://www.smallbiztechnology.com I sometimes edit and sometimes put whole clips of press releases on my web site. With each post MY OWN commentary is added.
My web site is a RESOURCE for all things small business techhnology related. So I do have original stories, I have book reviews and more...my audience trusts what's on my site.
If the content is from a press release - that's fine as it's going to be simply factual material. If it's from ME, which is what my audience really loves it's my insight/advice to them.
Posted by: Ramon Ray at March 11, 2006 09:33 AM