When Journalists’ Sources Have Direct Access to an Audience

There was a weird exchange between entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, and Wired magazine this week, that was picked up by quite a few blogs. (Read about it here, here, here, and here.)

There was one piece of it that I found really interesting: some people feel they don’t need to talk to journalists in a way they traditionally might have, because they:

  • Have their own audience on their blogs.
  • Have a fear of being misquoted, or not having the full story explained.

Blogger Dave Winer writes: “I don’t have any trouble getting my ideas out on my own.”

An old blog post by Joe Beda explain his thoughts on the need for traditional media:

“Talking to the media has absolutely no upside for me. If I had something important to say, I would much rather post it here on my blog and let people link to it and forward it around if they find it interesting.”

And his reasons:

  • My voice gets through unfiltered.
    “No matter how hard they try, I’ve seen reporters misinterpret what I and others have said again and again. I’m sure most of them think that they are faithfully transmitting the meaning of the primary source, but they invariably change the meaning along the way — in some small (or large) way.”

  • I want the link traffic.
    “Flow is the currency of the blogging world. Talking to a reporter gets me no flow. Even when they mention my blog (rarely) they almost never link to it. It seems like they just don’t get how the web works.”

  • Talking to a reporter could get me fired.
    “Google [his employer] really doesn’t want me talking to reporters. Blogging is walking a fine line that requiring a healthy dose common sense; but talking to reporters is suicidal. The problem again is that what the reporter writes isn’t necessarily what you thought you were saying.”

  • No mountains out of mole hills.
    “Writing something on your blog that people find interesting enough to link to and pass around is hard! The real time web (new name for the blog-o-sphere) is a very hard filter. While the media can produce its own buzz, it takes real work and something truly interesting to make an impact on the much more democratic medium that is the true internet.”

Even for bloggers who will gladly interview with journalists and others in the media, some will print the full, un-edited interview on their own blogs, to ensure the meaning of their words is captured.

Dan Gillmor tries to explain the reason that some bloggers want more control over their words in traditional media:

“Here is a fact, and I say it with regret after almost 25 years of professional journalism experience. Almost every article gets something wrong, from the source’s perspective. Typically it’s not a remotely crucial point, just a tiny one. ”

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