April 26, 2008

TIME OUT: Dinosaurs vs. Divas

Blogger  Xavier Onasis at the Kansas City  Press Club event 'Ethics of Blogging'
Kansas City Journalists, Bloggers Meet IRL

As part of the Society of Professional Journalists' Ethics Week, the Kansas City Press Club invited me to sit on a panel about the ethics of blogging.

I walked in late to the KSHB building with Tony from Tony's Kansas City. He didn't seem like the baby-eating, garbage producing media whore I've been told he is. Although we really didn't talk because Hispanics have this thing that we either bond instantly or give each other the stink eye. I'm not quite sure which happened ... a stinky bond perhaps?

This sounds weird but I never really considered myself a blogger. I consider myself a print journalist who happens to publish on a blog.

In the traditional media, we’re taught to fear the blogger because they cheapen our profession. Bloggers ride our journalistic coattails. Bloggers are untrained, unskilled, unethical monkeys who throw poo and make life difficult for “real” journalists. That vibe was present at the KC Press Club event. Yet, few of the bloggers present considered themselves journalists even though some have journalism training and/or do investigative reporting.

A bald white guy, who I later learned was Xavier Onasis from Hip Suburban White Guy, got into a bit of a tussle with Bill Grady from KMBZ-AM. An upset Grady said he’s only seen two bloggers at news events but that somehow bloggers post what reads like first-hand coverage of the events. XO asked Grady how he knew there were only two bloggers. Grady replied that they wear press passes identifying them as such or ask questions that identify their blog affiliation. XO said that wasn’t an accurate indicator of blogger presence.

Also in attendance were Mark Forsythe (who is totally adorable) from The Kansas City Post and John Lansberg of Bottom Line Communications. Forsythe, who doesn’t consider himself a blogger but an op/ed columnist, discussed the practice of media swagger jacking (stealing story angles and/or sources). Lansberg discussed how a story breaks online and days later it finds its way into the mainstream media. I added that bloggers usually don’t have the verisimilitude and immediate access a media corporation provides so when our stories get jacked, we'd appreciate some ink. Forsythe said he'd settle for an e-mail from the reporter saying, "Great post, I'm gonna take your idea and run with it."

Here are a few of the other items we discussed:

  • Anonymity and pseudonymity
  • Code of ethics
  • Hyperlocal coverage
  • Real-time blogging
  • Breaking news
  • Accuracy and vetting
I know other KC premium bloggers attended -- I just didn't know any of them nor they me. It turned out to be a lively discussion. I hope more bloggers become part of the KC Press Club or join professional journalism organizations.

I’m not sure after today’s event I consider myself a blogger but I’m warming up to the idea.