Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Engaging the Author

Having tracked down Thomas Claburn -- the author of "Media Companies Confront Mortality" -- I have engaged in a spirited conversation with him about CMP, his article, blogging vs. journalism, etc. With his permission, I repeat some of that conversation here.

Claburn points out that it is CMP and not he (or any individual writer) who (1) doesn't provide "community" tools and (2) and does spread articles around their network without attribution to the original author. So to be clear - my criticism on this point was not of Thomas or of his article -- but it was of CMP.

Regarding the specific comment, Thomas writes: "Your point is well-taken. It was certainly snarky and perhaps an unfair characterization of the state of the companies present."

But he goes on to point out that I was snarky back in calling his comment "ugly." We then debated whether there is a difference between blogging (which I characterized as editorial) and writing a news article for Information Week. I contend that there is a difference -- my expectation is that something labeled "news" will be presented with an attempt at conveying an objective perspective. Snarkiness is fine in an editorial, where it is clearly an individual's perspective. This blog, for example, is unapologetically my own perspective. And while I recognize that journalists are people too and have their own perspectives and biases - I expect that news will be written in a way that doesn't broadcast those perspectives.

But the most important part of this for me is that when I did track down the author, he did reply, was accountable, was engaged with the topic and the audience. So kudos to Thomas for being the kind of journalist that can make a difference in the media 2.0 world -- even if his company is following far behind in supporting him.

Here's What's Wrong

UPDATE - See bottom of article...

Dear CMP Media, thank you for your recent coverage of the Web 2.0 Expo. I enjoyed your article covering the panel I spoke on. Your article, "Media Companies Confront Mortality" demonstrated what is wrong with mainstream media very effectively.

#1) There was no byline. The article was written by "Staff Writers" -- since it wasn't written by a specific person, there is no accountability, no ability to respond, no knowledge of whether the person writing the article actually knows anything about the topic that he/she is writing on... So this is just a pronouncement from on high -- big media saying "this is what you should believe about what happened and you should believe because we are in charge."

#2) There is no comment mechanism. I read the article and then I have no ability to discuss the article with other people reading it, no trackback mechanism so that I can link to the article from my blog and point out problems or discuss issues...

#3) With the appearance of objectivity, the article puts ugly opinions into the public sphere. Where does CMP Media get off saying that our opinions were "...coming from a panel full of poorly capitalized Web startups..." How do they know? Did they bother to inquire with any of the four of us about our capital structures?

No need to read CMP Media any more, they discredit themselves through their practices, behavior, and poor reporting.

UPDATE: It occurred to me that the version of the article I was seeing was picked up from somewhere else within CMP, and sure enough the original version is in Information Week -- here.

I have written to author Thomas Claburn - let's see if he replies!