Friday, October 28, 2005

Journalism and blogs, Looking back, Looking forward

I went to the memorial service for a man named Joe Kovach who was very close to a friend of mine. That memorial service was amazing. I never knew Joe but I feel like I did, having heard the vivid remembrances. It seems he was the kind of tough-as-nails, demanding, no-bullshit, newspaper editor character that I had previously thought was only a myth. There were memories of all kinds, about how he was personally as a husband, a friend, a boss, a brother, but the thing that struck me most (outsider that I was) was the way people talked about his professional life, and how his kind of journalism was exactly the kind of journalism that is lacking at this moment in history, and that we desperately need right now. People spoke of his devotion to the truth, and to the readers- and his desire to cut the crap and get right to the heart of the matter and say it clearly in words that the average "man on the street" could understand, and to hell with the consequences.

Something we need more of for sure. Hopefully I'll get some more thoughts together on this later, but for now just two things:

1) I had a really interesting conversation at the reception after the memorial with a young editor at a local paper- he looked like he was my age or younger. I asked about blogs and he made a really good point about the difference between a blogger and a journalist- a) that the journalist, being a professional (as very few bloggers are) has time to go knock on doors, run down facts, visit places, do all the things that Joe asked his reporters if they'd done- did you go here? Did you go there? Did you find out everything you could? - you just can't spend all day doing that if you have a day job. and b) that the workplace of the journalist was key-- the co-workers- the editors (like Joe was) - expecting more of you- and people to bounce ideas off of- the blogger has the community of other bloggers, but that comes AFTER they've written whatever they wrote- not before- does that make a difference. He thought it did. It definitely makes the writing better. I'm not sure what I think about this, but it seems interesting.

2) There's a site called "romenesko" which some people are calling the conscience of the journalism world- a place for journalists to call each other out, and demand more of each other. Maybe this is part of the way up and out of the current sorry state of affairs.


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