Phew. That’s better. I am eating a cheese sandwich as I type (Tesco’s value red Leicester on Kingsmill 50/50 sliced bread). And here’s a picture of my cat.
Isn’t he lovely? It’s not a recent picture but that could be because I’m using him as a narrative device. Or maybe not. Maybe my camera’s broken or he’s become unadorable or I’m just too lazy to take and upload another one. You decide.
Now then. Having established myself as deeply facile and boring I can go on to say that my snappy, attention-grabbing headline has got absolutely nothing to do with the event I went to this morning. Absolutely nothing to do with the “traditional media” in general, and of course, absolutely nothing to do with the BBC in particular. Oh no.
Uh, but hang on a bit. I’m a blogger aren’t I? So that means I might be um, less than accurate. Unlike, of course, the “traditional media”. Oh, the terrible uncertainty in the minds of my readers.
It was interesting, the discussion this morning. The most interesting thing, to me, was said by Stewart Purvis, professor of journalism, fabulously experienced award-studded former ITN head honcho etc. “I’m just waiting”, he said (and of course I’m paraphrasing here because I wasn’t taking notes or recording the session), “I’m just waiting for a really big blog hoax”.
A ripple ran around the room. Not the Severn Bore, but a perceptible ripple. Sort of schadenfreude-in-advance with an added dose of “please don’t let it be me”. The implication, it seemed to me, in both speaker and audience reaction, was that this would be proof of the inherent danger of “blogs” and that once this had happened journalists could stop being quite so concerned about them.
That’s one interpretation that might result from a “traditional media” organisation falling for a blog-based hoax. There is, of course, another. And it is that if a media organisation ends up falling for such a hoax it will demonstrate that said media organisation had not checked its facts properly. Verified its sources. Done what journalists and editors in the room this morning congratulated themselves upon, and quite rightly so (in many cases). Exercised all those skills that journalists insist, quite rightly in many cases, distinguish them from bloggers.
It really, really isn’t rocket science. You cannot eat your cake and have it at the same time. You cannot laud your own professionalism on the one hand and blame a source for being inaccurate if you transmit that inaccurate information on the other. Blogs are not journalism. Just as press releases are not journalism. Just as party political statements are not journalism. Just as stories seen in other, rival, “traditional media” do not or, rather more accurately, should not, be lifted and reproduced without being checked.
Does this attitude toward information generated by individuals and published on the internet have something to do with a perceived (or actual) erosion of power? That the future cuts both ways has already been demonstrated by the Reuters picture incident. Did the smoke of the doctored picture from Beirut which was “outed” by bloggers hang heavy but unacknowledged in the air?
It isn’t (she types, slowly and heavily, because this is sooo old and it’s soooo tedious to have to repeat it all the time) “them and us”. It really isn’t. Get your head out of the sand, get on your surfboard and ride the frikkin wave. Change is difficult, change (nowadays) is extremely fast. Entrenched, adversarial, inflexible, defensive attitudes are not going to get you anywhere.
And now, back to the cat. In a glorious example of web2.0 loveliness I have to relate that I was contacted to take part in today’s exciting event by flickr mail. By AnnabelB who, I notice, already has a picture of the event on her photostream.
She, it transpires, has been reading this blog (no doubt concerned that she’d contacted some cat-loving madwoman) and had been following the saga of the cards closely. So when we met and I offered her one she immediately demanded the one with the most embarrassing photo title. Which I think has to be “don’t mess with me”. Which is (you will have realised by now, I hope) a picture of….. my cat!