Monday, April 10, 2006

Blogs, punk rock and some thoughts on the conference

Finally the conference is over. I was surprised to see how many international initiatives that had been started since last year. And France is coming too. I talked to Frédéric Miribel, Chargé d’études économiques at the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Lyon, who was very interested in starting an innovation journalism program. That will be discussed at conference Clusters 2006 in October 9-13, in Lyon.

There was a lot of discussion on blogs and journalism. One big blogging issue is the (lack of) quality. So what? What blogs do is making it harder charging for bad journalism. There is a lot of crappy journalism being printed today. With blogs you can get all that crap for free plus the good ones. The blogs are just new competition to the traditional media and that is a good thing for the readers. For the moment there is a jungle out there, but I am convinced that we soon will have ways of finding quality. The change in the media landscape today is no more different that is was with the tabloids during the 1900th century or the radio in the 1930’s. People learn too choose and find tools: there are ratings, reviews, editors, friends, and sometimes we even decide ourselves.

I find that the blogosphere is a bit like the punk rock movement. An anti-establishment movement with a provoking frankness of expression, with strains of social and political relevance, that is missing in established industry. In other words: “the current media sucks and we publish what we like to read.”

In general it struck me that many of the speakers from The Big Publishers were defending themselves: “We do cover…”, We do write about…”, We do use internet/blogs/whatever…” It would be more interesting to discuss what the new media can do, instead of cross-examine the old papers. For next year I would like to see more video bloggers, web magazines and podcasters.

Not surprisingly there also was a lot of discussion if there is a need for a new label “innovation journalism”. The question does not have any answer, but the discussion is necessary and personally I think the discussion is the issue. It’s like the question “What’s good music?” To paraphrase Duke Ellington: Journalism is a category of writing. But everything that goes into the paper/web is not good journalism. If it’s about innovation it’s innovation journalism. And it depends on who’s reading how much innovation journalism it is.

To a certain point we need labels to be able to identify different topics. And I do believe that we should change the way journalistic labels are now somewhat; journalism should not be put in one broad category.


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