How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog: Goodbye Dead Trees!
As the new year begins, it’s probably past time to assess what the jump from old media to new media has taught me.
I know what it sounds like–old lady print reporter starts a gen-you-wine blog and goes all gaga about new media or else makes a tsk-tsk list of what needs to change to make blogs as good as mainstream media.
Well, I will try my very hardest not be too navel-gazing in a series of three posts I will make this week about the key things I have learned so far.
Thus, as they say in one of mainstream journalism’s favorite cliches–let’s not bury the lede:
First, after almost eight months of daily blogging for this site, I think it is safe to say that I will probably never write another thing professionally for a print publication and will spend the rest of my career–such that it will be–publishing online only.
Why? Besides saving all those trees, of course–which, let me start off the new year by being completely honest, never occurred to me until just this very second–it’s simple and obvious: The future of all media is digital going forward.
As I always like to keep in mind about everything: Don’t fight the trend.
That might sound a bit glib to some, but I think it’s an important thing to keep in mind as the fortunes of great newspaper companies continue the steady and unwavering declines of the last decade, in what feels a bit like a long and agonizing circling of the drain.
So it’s not exactly a brilliant move to see that and contemplate a move to higher ground–it is simply common sense.
Well, common sense combined with a sense of inevitability that is hard to deny.
I would hope, for example, that if I were around riding for the Pony Express and I saw a newfangled car chug on by for the first time, that I would be one of those people who immediately got the fact that life as I knew it was about to change rather dramatically.
Because that’s exactly what I felt when I first saw early blogs, even though it took me many years to do anything about it and even though I myself had basically stopped getting most of my news and information in print in favor of online.
But now that I am in the pool, so to speak, it feels completely obvious that being part of this medium–which combines all the excitement of discovery that characterizes the best of journalism, with the immediacy of blogging, wherein I can post in minutes what used to take hours and sometimes days–is the only place to be.
It means, for example, I can obsess over stories in ways that you just don’t do in mainstream journalism, coming back again and again to a particular theme or a company or even a person and then drilling down in ways that (hopefully) reveal a lot more to readers.
Case in point, my very first post for BoomTown in mid-April of 2007 was about my being thrilled that Facebook had removed the tagline “A Mark Zuckerberg Production” from the foot of the site. I felt it sent an egomaniacal message.
Can you imagine, for example, even the not-so-humble Steve Jobs sticking his John Hancock all over Apple products? No, you could not. It is an observation that I never could have made easily as a print journalist, but something that I think was an important indicator of Facebook’s (lack of) maturity level.
Since then, I have written about the hyped social-networking site almost incessantly, focusing in particular on its kooky $15 billion valuation and desperate need to find a magical business plan to underfill it. Oh yes, and lots about all those thorny privacy issues too.
I think that ability to keep at it, doing original reporting, and then be quickly informed of more by other bloggers and, most importantly, readers, gives this media a kind of living nature that is almost impossible in print form.
The result is a form of journalism that becomes more powerful as it rolls along, like a very smart snowball, linking and cross-linking and acquiring a massive base of background information that makes a single story so much more.
Oops, I am going a little gaga, aren’t I?
Actually, I think that might be exactly the point I am trying to make here.