This week saw a small eruption in that corner of the blogging world where professional writers operate. It began with a post by Nick Carr, though Blogcritics preceded it with a contribution from the BBC.
What the debate you're about to hear tells you is that a lot of people are learning to write headlines. Contributions in declining order of snappiness and suggestiveness were: Trust Me I'm A Journalist; Why We Needs Blogs and Newspapers; A Glass House; and the more mundane but accurate Journalistic Standards in The Blogosphere.
What was it about? Nick Carr contends that Michael Arrington's TechCrunch and Arrington's own commentary are fatally flawed because of a conflict of interest — Arrington invests in some companies that TechCrunch covers. Specifically says Carr, Arrington's support of blogging as opposed to journalism is open to criticism, for that very reason. Arrington does not respect journalistic standards but his own are compromised.
So Carr wants to talk up journalism as opposed to blogging.
This is the line Kent Newsome quotes: "When it comes to conflicts of interest, or other questions of journalistic ethics, the proper attitude that we bloggers should take toward our counterparts in the traditional press is not arrogance but humility."
And Newsome's own endorsement: "To do otherwise is to claim a position of superiority that is ludicrous on its face. Blogs have many advantages over traditional print media. Let's not obfuscate them with illusions of grandeur."
This morning Matthew Ingram reminded us: "So yes, bloggers have some things to learn from traditional media when it comes to disclosing conflicts. But traditional media darn well has plenty to learn from bloggers as well — and I for one am glad we have both."
Some stock-taking is needed.
1. News media operate through commercial compromises that do alter what would otherwise go into news programmes and newspapers. It's part of the game. Perhaps news media have become increasingly less critical - at least that's the theory for the rise of the radical right. Others would argue investigative journalism has died. Beyond that though, it's always been this way.