Steve Jobs is a disruptor. His company creates disruptive technology and he says things that are disruptive whether they are intended to be or not. I am not an Apple fanboy although I will not go back to a PC ever again, God willing. As a Verizon customer and heavy Google user I am going to be getting an Android OS smartphone in the near future (HTC Incredible looks like a good choice right now) despite having an iPod Touch which I can have the Apple app experience through.
I say that to set the stage, in a way, because Jobs said something at the D8 conference that will draw the ire of many in my field. He said the following as reported at The Next Web when talking about the iPad, the future of journalism and other ‘important’ matters:
“I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers. I think we need editorial now more than ever.”
I agree with him. The last thing we need is journalistic anarchy where anything goes because anyone wants it to. I blog. I write here (not often enough for some – check the comments) and I write for others like Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim and Mike Moran’s Biznology blog. I write for clients. I write a lot and it is mostly in blogs.
Having said that I would never call myself a journalist. I have friends that are true journalists. They know how to break stories and report them properly. They know how to conduct effective interviews because they have been trained to do so.
Me? I go on my gut, my many years of experience, my limited grasp of how others think and I then form opinions. I then write those opinions to bounce off of others and hopefully add to the conversation. Occasionally, I will do something that is completely original but I think the value I bring to people is as an aggregator and a voice (sometimes quite the contrarian one) that comments and adds to the situation (or tears away at it depending upon your point of view). I make mistakes. I have typos in my writing (although I truly hate them). That’s not being a journalist, per se, it’s more of a perpetual Op/Ed position.
I think it is a valuable service to provide. I don’t, however, go the extra mile to say that I am a journalist. What I am willing to recognize and tip my hat to are the people who report the news and are paid by organizations with large infrastructures to do so. These people feed my ability to comment and give opinions. Without them I would have some spare time on my hands.
If we were just a nation of bloggers and didn’t have an industry that has standards and is held in some esteem (which admittedly has been eroded significantly by irresponsible bias flowing through reporting and being passed off as OK) there would be no way to tell who is right or wrong. It’s like moral relativism. It doesn’t work when in the end everyone makes up their own rules and everyone is right by default. It’s a flawed system and philosophy in life and information dissemination as well.
As a result, I think that descending into a world of bloggers, as Jobs puts it, would be a significant step down in quality of news collection and distribution. Believe it or not, I actually agree with Rupert Murdoch about paywalls and the need to pay for journalistic quality. If the Wall Street Journal was just a collection of egotistical bloggers it wouldn’t be as important or influential ( of course egotistical journalists that are unchecked aren’t so hot either). That kind of journalistic standard requires money. The same goes for the New York Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post and on down the line. We need them to survive. Otherwise, the noise of the Internet will become louder, more deafening and will ultimately fall to the lowest common denominator. That would be tragic.
So Steve, I agree that a nation of bloggers is not a good direction if that happens at the expense of real journalism. It’s when we all co-exist peacefully (or at least respectfully) that the magic will happen.