Patterico's Pontifications

2/24/2005

Suggestion for Mainstream Media Types Who Are Feeling Threatened By Blogs

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias — Patterico @ 7:00 am



I have a very simple suggestion for mainstream media types who feel in any way threatened by bloggers: whenever you hear the word “blogger,” think: “reader.”

After all, bloggers who aren’t discussing your newspaper are irrelevant to you. And bloggers who are discussing your newspaper are simply part of your readership.

In other words, they’re your customers. And, while the customer may not always be right, the customer deserves to have his complaints heard.

The main difference between your readers who are bloggers and your other readers is that your blogging readers have a voice — one that you can’t entirely control. On an individual level, each voice is ridiculously small; for 99% of bloggers (including me), it can’t even arguably begin to compare to the power of the newspaper’s voice. Still, it’s more than we had before.

While the voices of the bloggers may tend to be more critical, they are also more engaged. For them, reading the newspaper and thinking about news are important pursuits. These are the people you should be listening to.

Once you realize that bloggers are your readers, it may help you be less dismissive of bloggers’ opinions.

Let’s play a game: pick a recent quote from a mainstream media representative that is dismissive of bloggers. (There are plenty out there, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one.) Take my suggestion and substitute the word “reader” for “blogger” and see how the quote sounds.

I’ll start by altering a recent quote from David Shaw of the L.A. Times. I am changing one word, substituting “readers” for “bloggers”:

But some readers are just self-important ranters who seem to wake up every morning convinced that the entire Free World awaits their opinions on any subject that’s popped into their heads . . .

Doesn’t that sound just a little bit jarring? Shaw probably would not have made this statement about readers. But why not? The altered quote is certainly a true statement — just as Shaw’s actual statement about bloggers was true. But either quote is also wildly unrepresentative of the group as a whole.

Print journalists: think of bloggers as your readers — because they are. They were your readers, with these same opinions, before they had blogs. Now they have a way to voice those opinions. If you’re really interested in your readers’ opinions, you should be listening.

P.S. My point has extra validity when you take into account blog commenters. For example, this is one blog, and I am one newspaper reader. But hundreds have stopped by to comment here about the Los Angeles Times. All of these people, at one time, have been readers of that newspaper (though many have cancelled their subscriptions). If David Shaw dismisses bloggers as self-important because we maintain online journals and publish our opinions every day, it is harder for him to so easily dismiss the opinions of our commenters.

As much as it pains me to say it, L.A. Times reporters and editors visiting this blog would actually do well to spend less time reading my posts, and more time cruising through my comments, listening to what their readers (and former readers!) have to say. They might learn something.

UPDATE: In the spirit of that last comment, I hope readers of the Los Angeles Times will register their opinions about the paper in the comments to this post. Bloggers, feel free to blog your reactions and send me the link — I will link your posts in that same post.

UPDATE x2: Welcome to Instapundit readers!

27 Responses to “Suggestion for Mainstream Media Types Who Are Feeling Threatened By Blogs”

  1. […] February 24, 2005

    News Fans

    Patterico has a thought for those […]

    Bunker Mulligan » News Fans (917297)

  2. […] Ideally, I’d like to get a response from all of my readers. All ten of you. I said this morning that the reporters a […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » Why Do You (Not) Read the Los Angeles Times? (0c6a63)

  3. […] rters to jump in and mix it up with bloggers – who are, I’ll remind you, their readers. Speaking of which, I&#8 […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » More on Transparency (0c6a63)

  4. […] Jack Shafer whacks David Shaw. And deservedly so. I have whacked Shaw once or twice (or thrice) myself. But I […]

    Patterico's Pontifications » A Good Whacking (0c6a63)

  5. Patrick,
    If anyone at the dog trainer wants to get an idea of why people are blogging instead of buying, have them guess, before they look, at what might be the front page coverage today. Choices are:
    1. The president is in Europe
    2. Hillary is in Iraq, enroute to India
    3. Segregation is illegal
    4. Weather is turning better
    5. Trackers kill tiger
    6. Walmart wants to come to California
    7. Nobody’s interested in who’s mayor in LA
    8. Mammoth ski resort owner wants to sell
    9. Wrinkles work
    And this is why it’s used to train dogs.

    Mary Herman (dfcbeb)

  6. Blogging.

    What’s Blogging.

    I prefer.

    Mobility deficient political activist. 🙂

    Where did you get your MDPA?

    Gary Kozy (892264)

  7. Had to doctor up my signiture.. 🙂

    Gary Kozy (MDPA) (892264)

  8. Blog comments implement a great Letters to the Editor section, which the paper greatly abuses. None of my letters to LA Times have ever been published. Many of the published letters are the same old you go girl nonsense.

    Extra insulting is how they gave space to that supremely retarded editorial where Kinsley found an entertainment expert (Rob Reiner) to pick apart Bush’s Social Security plan. Kinsley is behaving like a 12 year old girl giddy over star sightings.

    Lucky for me, Patterico has a much lower standard for publication and I get satisfaction making comments about the paper here. Comment sections are a pain to maintain, and I appreciate the work keeping this website running.

    Ladainian (91b3b2)

  9. The Bakersfield Californian.

    Has never responded to any of my submissions..

    Gary Kozy (MDPA) (892264)

  10. THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
    I hate Patterico for having thought of the following before I did: I have a very simple suggestion for mainstream media types who feel in any way threatened by bloggers: whenever you hear the word blogger, think: reader. After all,…

    Pejmanesque (2ae9b5)

  11. Readers should read and not be heard.

    J. Peden (ffccb8)

  12. How Media Should Think of Bloggers
    Patterico has completely nailed the relationship between the media and their blogging watchdogs. I have a very simple suggestion for mainstream media types who feel in any way threatened by bloggers: whenever you hear the word blogger, think: “reader….

    Les Jones (794c81)

  13. Once you realize that bloggers are your readers, it may help you be less dismissive of bloggers’ opinions.

    I think this is really quite an asute observation. As Pejamanesque pointed out, this may be simple, but I have not seen it before – and it’s obvious that the MSM is not yet thinking along these lines. I think they’ll start soon.

    Regret (9cd6cd)

  14. Readers should read and not be heard.

    I hear what you’re saying.

    Patterico (756436)

  15. Outside the Box
    And I hate the both of them for thinking of it before I did. But I was thinking about it, and a lot of other (strange) things while down with my Cold (big enough to deserve a capital letter).
    Pejmanesque: THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
    I hate Patterico for…

    white pebble (9f9139)

  16. We should think a little further on that recent quote from David Shaw of the L.A. Times. Try substituting journalist for blogger and it makes as much sense.

    But some journalists are just self-important ranters who seem to wake up every morning convinced that the entire Free World awaits their opinions on any subject that’s popped into their heads . . .

    koala (707a9b)

  17. To paraphrase further, the MSM’s attitude about readers and bloggers presently is more like:

    Reader should read and not be red.

    🙂

    Dan S (67f35e)

  18. I quit reading the times about 20 years ago when I realized how Liberal they were. Specifically, they support every Illegal Alien position to come along, at the same time the illegals support La Opinion. They continually undermine the police. Currently mayor hahn is trying to take police and fire protection “off Budget” by raiseing the city sales tax and the paper supports it. Imagine, every program in the City Budget is more important than Police and Fire Protection and the Times supports that position. I have watched a great Paper commit Suicide and become nothing more that the LA Bureau of the Chicago Tribune.

    jerry Krainock (1fc42e)

  19. Divide and conquer.

    Most readers are not bloggers.

    Marginalize the few that are bloggers and you can attempt to still control the message that most of your readers hear.

    ————

    First they came for the AOL’ers
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a AOLer.
    Then they came for the Spammers
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Spammer.
    Then they came for the Bloggers
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Blogger.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

    The Comedian (b9db0b)

  20. Very well said, Patrick.

    I might add, the LAT and others might also consider that bloggers also provide links and attention to articles that might otherwise have been forgotten.
    How often does anyone read the entire paper? I have sometimes recycled an entire paper without opening it, because I simply didn’t have the time to get to it, and the next day brings another one with fresher news.
    Meanwhile, I might take a moment during work to peruse a blog, and see a link to an article from the very paper that I recycled. So, a blogger is a very high-potency reader, one that keeps a writer’s work alive….

    Brian Crouch (0615d9)

  21. right on. Also, blog readers are exposed to more MSM outlets than they otherwise would seek. MSM should welcome blogger attention!

    Carl Schroeder (ac9726)

  22. In other words, they’re your customers. And, while the customer may not always be right, the customer deserves to have his complaints heard.
    There’s a disconect because everywhere else, “The Customer is Always Right,” but in the Mainstream Media Industry we’ve been treated with contempt, and played the card “The Customer is Always Wrong.”   Nowdays with Blogs, “The Customer isn’t Taking it Anymore.”

    -keith in mtn. view (c034c3)

  23. Comedian, that has got to be the worst Niemoller impression I’ve heard in a long time. Comparing Jews to spammers? Get real. I have yet to see one iota of evidence that the federal government is rouding up spammers and murdering them en masse – not that there’d be anything wrong with it if they did.

    Xrlq (5ffe06)

  24. Or you could your technique of paraphrasing Shaw for another contrast that might just be close to the truth:

    But some journalists are just self-important ranters who seem to wake up every morning convinced that the entire Free World awaits their opinions on any subject that’s popped into their heads . . .

    I think that would sound quite a bit more jarring to the Shaws of the world. However, its descriptive value seems to be on the rise these days.

    What’s the real difference between journalists and bloggers?

    It can’t be education because there are a ton of journalists out there writing who lack the imprimatur of the Columbia School of Journalism.

    It can’t be the writing itself because there are plenty of good and bad writers on both sides of that fence.

    It can’t be that one has strong opinions and the other doesn’t because the lack of that much is observable.

    It can’t be objectivity because even Evan Thomas has said that journalists were pretty much in the can for Kerry last time around.

    It can’t be integrity because Mary Mapes, Dan Rather, Jayson Blair, Mark Halperin pretty much have settled that as an issue.

    No, what Shaw’s argument really boils down to is that the majority of bloggers don’t have the “correct” opinions about life in general. He is saying, dammit, you heathens need to just sit down, shut up and listen to your betters.

    When you strip it down to the bones, that’s where his argument leads you. Yes, Virginia, he really is that condescending and out of touch with reality.

    Sean Bannion (4b24ac)

  25. Very well said. We are consumers of news that discuss news. We are their customers.

    I can understand some of the providers may not like their customers. Happens in lots of industries.

    However, the news industry is the only one I’m aware of that seems to take pride in publicly demeaning their customers. Why?

    Other industries confine their dislike of some customers to the ‘water cooler’ or friends. I can’t think of any other industry where such public defaming of customers would be applauded.

    Chris Josephson (0cd294)

  26. Checking In On Friends
    Those who honor me with a link each have their own great posts!

    The View From The Nest (d36e52)

  27. Here’s another example of reporters who just can’t bring themselves to take your advice that bloggers are just readers, from Cheat-Seeking Missiles:

    Despite Patterico’s recent advise to journalists that they just think of bloggers as “readers,” Jon Friedman of Market Watch admits that bloggers frighten him:

    “Sure, they scurry around the outskirts of journalism like lab mice and can make more noise than a garbage truck at 6 a.m. Still, the question persists: Are they truly journalists — or just amateur commentators?”

    More at cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot.com

    Laer (a6a7a0)


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