Old school on another planet

By | February 7, 2008

What odd comments made by Brian Trench about the journalism/blogging crossover.

From today’s IT, Deloitte produced some report about media blogging etc and said

Deloitte’s media and technology team note that the traditional path of creating a columnist is a major investment that may not always pay off.

Hiring journalism school graduates, training them for years, having them cover a beat and then giving them a column is not a guaranteed route to attracting healthy readership.

On the other hand, there is a growing number of bloggers and podcasters who have already attracted a loyal audience, sometimes amounting to tens of thousands of people. Says Deloitte: “A columnist with a devoted following would be an asset to most traditional media outlets, and hiring someone from the web is likely to be much less expensive that poaching successful staff from a competitor.”

That seems on the nail. But the article goes on

So should aspiring journalists make a blog their number one priority? According to Brian Trench, senior lecturer in the School of Communications in Dublin City University: “I can see the logic, because there is a readymade profile of work to assess. But I have no evidence that it has been happening in Ireland. In fact, established journalists are expected now to take on a blogging role as an adjunct to their job. It might happen more in specialist trade publications and in sports writing.”

Trench added that it is increasingly common for journalists to work across a number of different platforms, including the web. However journalists don’t yet require technical web skills as dedicated programmers work in the background performing the technical roles.”

Eh Brian,

1. “no evidence that it is happening?” Me? Richard Waghorne? Damien Mully? Internationally, Andrew Sullivan?
2. “established journalists expected to take on a blogging role”. Who? Harry McGee made a brief effort but seems to have abandoned it since his IT move. Kevin Rafter has a blog too but it’s separate from the Tribune site and I’m not sure what following it has. In the UK, sites like the Guardian have their journos blog on the home site. Hasn’t happened here at all (the IT has a pricewatch blog but its seriously marginal).
3. “journalists don’t yet require technical web skills as dedicated programmers….perform the technical roles” Oh dear me. The whole point of a blog is that you don’t need any “technical skills”.

Deloittee got it right but Trench got it oh so wrong. He should read up a little bit on the internet before he starts pronouncing on it. Personally I think bloggers can be columnists ( I would wouldn’t I?) but professional journalists find it very difficult to blog. Blogging is so informal that its hard for the disciplined pro to let go whereas a blogger can find it within themselves to “step up” to the higher standards required of the print medium.

Update: Stephen below points out I do the Irish Times no favours. He’s right. They have three blogs and though I’m an online subscriber I’d never read any of them! They are here and look like they’re being updated regularly. I wonder what the readership is? Do you have to be a subscriber to read them? Still, they are, as I say on marginal issues – no hardcore political issues – its “young people’s stuff” and the comments don’t look too busy. I see they link to other blogs, but not mine. I forgive them. Well, not really. 😉

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9 thoughts on “Old school on another planet

  1. Dan Sullivan

    Kevin Rafter doesn’t engage via his blog at all which I think should be part and parcel of the medium, that’s just my view though I know others who think it isn’t necessary. The Present Tense blog on the Irish Times is building up a following or serving as a discussion venue at least. The funniest comment that Trench makes is that blogging people making it into print might happen most often in specialist and sports writing when it is in the areas of opinion ,social and political commentary that the most prominent and best regarded bloggers came arisen.

    As regards the technical side, you’re right it is meant to be that people without the technical skills. That side I do find it very funny that one noted techno buff who pronounces on technologies far and wide got hired help to do one of their own blogging sites basic and all as it was.The whole Web 2.0 culture of there being no more need for actual technical skills can go a bit overboard at times.It is that culture of “ah sure anyone can do that stuff” in the technical sphere that is making it hard to attract people into science and engineering.

  2. Sarah Post author

    Good point. I wouldn’t be up and running without Gavin. But that’s just WordPress. Blogger doesn’t need any tech skills AT ALL and once the thing is set up in WordPress there are zero skills required.

  3. EWI

    Richard Waghorne

    Waghorne isn’t a blogger no more. I’ll refrain from commenting on his “journalism” credentials.

  4. Gerry

    It’s great to see a senior lecturer in communications at one of what we are told is our leading universities having no clue what time it is. Really very worrying. One can presume he is telling his students not to bother with all that blogging and web 2.0 shite.

    Or is it the old canard of protecting vested interests?

  5. Sarah Post author

    Waghorne wouldn’t be a columnist if he hadn’t blogged. That’s how he built up a profile.

  6. EWI

    That’s how he built up a profile.

    I could give you a better idea of how he did it, but the Legal Department have advised me not to do so in writing…

  7. Pingback: the chancer » Blog Archive » Notes From Chancerdom 08/02/08

  8. Stephen

    Hasn’t happened here at all (the IT has a pricewatch blog but its seriously marginal).

    Irish Times actually has 3 blogs – Jim Carroll’s excellent On The Record blog on music, Shane Hegarty’s very good Present Tense one on pop culture and the sparky Pricewatch one.

  9. Carrie

    Well, as anyone who went to DCU will tell you, Brian Trench is an idiot.

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