How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learned to Love the Blog: Truthiness!
So yesterday I posted my first of three ruminations of what the leap from old media to new media has taught me.
In it, I noted that “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.”
And that, my friends, was a prime example of truthiness in action!
Nonetheless, the statement of that glaringly obvious fact caused a little bit of a stir around the Web, almost as if I was saying something amazingly freakish, such as: I have decided that forthwith I will bake my scribblings into delicious frosted donuts and readers can literally eat all my tasty bons mots up.
In fact, the shift I am making is perhaps one of the more normal and logical things I have done (which are acts you can count on one hand, in my case), essentially responding to a dramatic change in consumer habits by trying to provide the best offering I can in that new venue.
Which brings me to my next point about the nature of the blogosphere, which demands from its contributors a level of clarity and, dare I say, intimacy.
That is much easier to avoid in the print medium, where it is simple to distance yourself from readers and rely on on-one-hand-on-the-other-hand back and forth that leaves them with little idea of what is actually going on.
Of course, the best of journalists don’t do this–their prose is as clear as a pane of newly washed glass, through which one can see everything, even as they maintain a level of fairness and accuracy that is always required.
But I have found writing a blog that being non-opaque is necessary. You pretty much have to say what you know in much more firm terms or risk that the legions who always know more than you do will tell the story better.
Of course, that can often result in blabby and flabby online writing that comments and reacts and has no underpinnings of actual reporting and is too often simply untrue.
That was a common complaint in the early days of blogging from mainstream journalists. Of course, many of them had made their fair share of mistakes too, but they correctly felt that the Web was lacking in the kind of checks and balances that would temper this problem.
At the time, I thought that was mostly the case. But I also believed blogs would inevitably get better and better, adding on the kinds of standards and practices that are important for credibility and then combining them with the valuable immediacy of the Web, its sassy energy and, perhaps most importantly, its proclivity to tell it like it is.
Thus, while being a columnist offline or online definitely gives me more latitude, I can now offer scoops and news along with analysis and observation in what I think is a much more useful combination.
That’s what I have been trying to do, for example, in my coverage of Web companies like Facebook and Yahoo, where I break news often, as well as begin conversations about everything from their valuation to strategy or lack thereof.
And, in the Web’s ability to offer instant video, I have found it even more helpful and relevant to take the audience where I go too.
While some might not like the rawness of this approach, I feel it offers a much clearer perspective and gives people more of an ability to make their own judgments on what I am showing them.
This more transparent approach that blogging at its best can offer is not a mind-blowingly new concept, but it is a key one going forward.
When it all works right, it results in a virtuous circle of information that is created between professionals and nonprofessionals and, hopefully, where a new level of respect and credibility is achieved.
And, if that doesn’t work, there is always the donut option.