Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bloggers and Press... Yes, That Debate Again.

No, don't worry this has nothing to do with NDAs. I'm not here to preach, but rather to bring to light a recent story in the newest issue of WIRED magazine.

On page 106 of the April issue, there's a story all about the rising popularity and controversy surrounding Blogs and their place as press. The article focuses on rival blogs Gizmodo and Engadget, and goes on to highlight their competitive natures and antics at this year's CES.

Now, while I'm sure most of my readers might be aware of this fact, Engadget is usually regarded as the tamer of the two sites, approaching blogging with a more traditionally press-like demeanor, while Gizmodo tends toward the more irrevrant and some would say less professional approach. However, regardless of any differences they might have, the two sites share one thing in common: a butt-load of readers. By all counts, these two sites are the HBO and Showtime of technology blogs. They're always battling each other, and you can always count on them to bring you the news you want about whatever new piece of tech is out there.

But the article brings to question whether or not Blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget will ever truly be accepted as part of the press... especially when the former often produces an image of immaturity (Gizmodo's CES TV-Be-Gone prank warranted many a harsh e-mail, comment, and even bans from future CES events). However, when reading the article, I couldn't help but feel a hint of pride for the guys at Gizmodo.

I know it was unprofessional, but I think that's why I like Gizmodo. I think that's why they manage to distinguish themselves from Engadget and why both sites are able to flourish. It also happens to be why Kotaku is so popular among gamers. That is to say, Gizmodo knows how to write for their audience because they are their own audience. I'm not saying everyone who reads Gizmodo or Engadget is an 18-20 something male who enjoys the pranks and goofy editorial streak the former is known for, but I am saying that a vast majority of both sites' readers fall under that label... myself included.

These blogs, all media, even the stuff you might find boring is a form of entertainment. There are millions of different kinds of entertainment in this world. My grandmother got her jollies from depressing local nightly news, while my grandfather got his from naps between thw 1st and 18th holes on ESPN. My mom can't get enough country music, and my dad has a weird obsession with anything USMA. To each their own, right?

So then I say, how dare the current members of the press try and exclude sites like Gizmodo or Engadget from their exclusive little club. Hell, even the Inquirer is press... because it fulfills the need of those people out there who prefer to read about Dolly Parton's failed lip implants over what's going on in Saudi territory these days.

I'll end this, as I know by now I've probably lost all my readers in this rant. Gizmodo, Engadget, 1up, Kotaku, Tobold, Keen, Darren... even me. I'm making this claim now, and I'll stand by it... even when I've long been proven wrong by someone who knows infinitely more than I.

We are press. We serve up news. We offer opinions to willing readers. We write for the public even if that public is five people every week. We are the media. We just have the added luxury of not being bought and sold... yet. Gizmodo and Engadget? They're professionals while we may be hobbyists. But that doesn't make me any different than them. Even if no one reads this, it's still an editorial isn't it?

Yep folks... I'm changing sides I think. It's time for me to flip-flop as I so famously do. The bloggers are press, even most of us never see a dime for our work.



brenda said...

I think the "bright line" for what distinguishes press from non-press is a little higher than just writing something on a blog, regardless of whether you get paid for it.

You have people who regurgitate press releases or aggregate other people's work. This is not press.

You have people who write their opinions on stuff. This is not press, either. Everyone has opinions. Not everyone is press.

Then you have people who have an idea for a story or interview, and piece it together from first sources, and make sure that all the things they say are facts really are, to the best of their knowledge (and can prove this), and that what they write forms a coherent piece about their topic or interviewee and not about the journalist so much.

That third one, that's journalism. That's press. The others are not.

-- Tipa @ West Karana

Bildo said...

Nope, that's Journalism. Not press.

I'm not asking people agree with me, but the more I think about the whole issue the more I realize the reason it's an issue is because the landscape is changing.

If there must be a distinction, then sure use the Journalist card. But just about everything you read or see or hear... regardless of its validity or credibility can be called press and be part of the media.

That's the point I want to hammer home here.

Keen said...

People opinions on this differ so greatly. You'll have one representative from one company who lumps everyone with a website together as press. Then you'll talk to someone else who likes to break it all up nicely into who is and who isn't press. Then there are the sites/blogs themselves that like to make the argument for or against why they think they are or aren't press.

In the end it only matters to the person making the decision to include or exclude.

Neil said...

I'll take the cynical view and say that companies treat bloggers as press if it serves their needs and treats them as private citizens if it doesn't.

Take a look at WAR's stance towards bloggers vis-a-vis beta invites. Then ask yourself, "Why hasn't EA Mythic invited "Keen, Graev, Tobold, Darren... even you" to their offices to report on the game in the way that they have done for, say, Gamespy and IGN?

I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in thinking that the high-quality blogs far surpass the general gaming megasites in terms of quality commentary, but in the end, bloggers are simply pundits who use websites instead of TV and radio.

Essentially, high quality, well-known MMO/game bloggers are essentially just our hobby's version of Ann Coulter and Stephen Colbert.

Keep blogging, keep writing qqality stuff, but don't expect that companies will treat you as more than pundits unless it is in their best interests to do so.

Tobold said...

I have to agree with Neil here. If "press" gets preferential treatment, and "bloggers" don't, then bloggers aren't press. As blogger I can't get into the WAR beta, I can't get anyone to be interviewed by me, and I can't even get a press pass to the next Blizzard convention. Paid game journalists get all that and more. We can call ourselves whatever we want, but that doesn't change the facts of how the rest of the world treats us.

Bildo said...

I'm not going to disagree with you and Neil, Tobold but I think you're missing my point:

The way the media works, the meaning of press, it's changing. Tipa's very much right in saying that there's a difference between journalism and what we do.

However, I'm inclined to believe that in this ne age we're all shaping the boundaries of what determines someone to be press are being torn down... for better or worse.

On the basest of terms, when I write something and a few hundred people read it... I still may have influenced a few hundred people. It's on a much smaller scale, but it's still influence that I share with those who are more canonically in "The Press".

Aaron Miller said...

Bloggers are press, and bloggers are often journalists. It's silly to equate bad press and bad journalism with not being press or journalism. Quality, ethics, and manner do not affect whether or not someone is a journalist or member of the press (unless you're talking about the social club).

Keen does exactly what the national news programs of Fox, CBS, NBC, NBC, and CNN do. They all reprint/re-tell the news of others with a little commentary or spin of their own. John Stossel has said that his editor at ABC national TV news used to assign stories to his writers by handing them clippings of the New York Times.

Go to any major news network's website and you'll notice Associated Press articles reprinted verbatim, just like Kotaku or MMOWTF do with others' articles.

And every major newspaper has an editorial section. Every major TV news network has editorial programs (which, incidentally, get much bigger ratings than more fact-oriented programs). Looks a lot like blogging to me. And the fact that editorials are always included with news suggests to me that they are generally considered to be a part of the news.

The hard truth is that commentary is an essential part of news. If they just printed charts and spreadsheets of facts, few would read or watch the news. That's partially because facts can be interpreted many ways, and help with interpretation is widely appreciated... even by the most intelligent, knowledgable, and wise viewers. Perspective is a valuable resource.

You don't have to be a good reporter to be a reporter. You don't have to be a good commentator to be a commentator. Many think Tom Brokaw or Dan Rather's work had authority simply because they were on national TV, but that no more made them "press" or "journalists" than Einstein was made a scientist by people paying attention to his theories.

Thallian said...

I'm not much for nomenclature, but if it mean special priveleges, I think they should let in some bloggers just to even things out between the 'bought' media and the 'unbought' media :P

Openedge1 said...

This is an old post...but, I do want to bring up this point...

What part of "press" are a lot of blogs missing?

The adverts...

Here is my thought
You are NOT press unless you put ad's on your site...period.

Watch the news on get ad's
Read the Newspaper, you see ad's
Read a news magazine, you get...

Instead, I am some blogger with an opinion, and some idea's or just wanting to blow some steam...

Wasn't the "blog" originally an idea of a diary online? So, why should I be called "press" writing in my "diary?"

No, I still 100% disagree with the whole press is dead..
Now, as to Gizmodo or Engadget...I see ad's on those sites...they are reporting various features of products, or new releases....they ARE press...

Blogs are not press until they put up some adverts...You sir are not press, as you have no ad's. I also am not press...

When a blog poster is trying to make money off their putting up ad's......

Then they're press!

Bildo said...

Haha, you may or may not be writing sarcasm into that post (it most certainly seems that way), but there's still a lot of truth to the statements within.

Maybe I should put some gold-seller adverts on my blog then?