Cold Type

No slug is safe in today’s newsroom

It’s time for more conversations

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Today I participated in a live chat hosted by Oregonian business writer Mike Rogoway, who wrote an interesting piece recently on the startup culture in Portland, Ore. You can read the details of that chat in Mike’s blog (disclosure: Mike and I once worked together in The Columbian newsroom and enjoy an occasional beer together).

While I thoroughly enjoyed the chat and story and learned much from it, I have to say what impressed me most is that Mike hosted the chat in the first place. See, not every newspaper is good at having conversations with their readers, print or online, and some journalists shun the idea completely. Why?

Some might say it’s because they already have enough on their plates, especially now that many reporters must crank out more copy as staffs have dwindled nationwide. Others might say they don’t want to chat for fear they may something that could be construed as bias and taint the public’s view of them as fair and objective. And then still others will say they don’t have time to learn the technology required to conduct online chats, or that their news organization doesn’t have the online tools to pull it off (not likely, but they may lack the IT resources to help a non-techie writer get one set up).

I’m not sold that any of those is a worthy excuse. Not any more. Mike managed to pull it off with technical glitches and without appearing to take sides, though he did express some opinions. I think readers find that refreshing now. No one is buying — and likely never has bought — that journalists are completely objective, try as they may. So why pretend?

I think it’s time that more journalists jumped into the conversations that are happening in the communities they cover, and I applaud Mike for doing that today. I’m looking forward to the next chat already. It’s also fueling my desire to bootstrap my own startup.

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Written by coldtype

May 6, 2009 at 1:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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