Online journalists: Lose the smugness, win a few converts

This will be an unusually confrontational post for me.

That said, Yoni Greenbaum was right on yesterday in pointing out a significant problem in some of the journalists fighting the good fight online:

But, and this might just be because of whom I read, the loudest are the bloggers who complain the most about the industry. These are typically young journalists with a short amount of time at any one job. Their blogs are places for them to publicly whine and throw tantrums in an effort to receive attention and obtain validation for their viewpoints. All too often their posts leave me shaking my head and wanting to grab the authors, give them a smack or two and tell them to wake up and, especially, grow up. But that’s not what this blog is about.

It was a perfect wake-up call to remind myself of my original vow to never become one of those people. I won’t name names, but I’ve often felt exactly the same way reading some journalism bloggers out there.

And I’d add that it’s not just about how the online torch carriers are blogging. I can’t help but think how much I’d hate being a colleague of some of those people, even though I agree 100 percent with what they’re saying. There’s no way that the message, if it’s presented in the “What the hell is wrong with everybody except me?” tone I often read, could be received by anyone who doesn’t already believe it.

Taking a conciliatory approach is a big focus of mine in my own newsroom as I try to share my Web skills with whoever wants to learn. I’ve led newsroom sessions on using Facebook, might soon lead sessions on using RSS and blogging style, reporters often ask for my help searching for profiles on MySpace, and I’ll often have philosophical discussions about things like liveblogging big events and why it’s worthwhile to be worrying about this Internet thing in the first place.

As a snot-nosed 23-year-old, the youngest person in the newsroom, there’s no way any of that would be received well if I was yelling at the people with whom I was trying to share my perspective. If I put them on the defensive every time they talk to me, they’re not going to talk to me very often.

Shouldn’t people with those skills be focused on finding the best way to share them, instead of caustically demanding that others catch up?

  • I hope I’m not /that/ person. Though I’ve posted some critical entries, I do try to stay on target and share my personal experiences — the good and bad. I figure there have to be other people out there figuring this stuff out like me, and we can all use the benefit of shared experience and knowledge. Even though I’m passionate about this stuff, I do try not to take on a holier than thou approach but a more “OMG! X paper is doing Y with Z platform. Here’s what I liked, what I didn’t and how maybe we should try it.”