Friday, October 26, 2007

Journalists as Brands

UPDATE: Here's another argument for journalists as brands.

The New York Observer did a piece a few days ago about journalists and their need to create a brand or face irrelevancy. As much as I love blogs and the Internet in general, this idea perplexes me and makes me wonder where it all leads.

As someone who rarely reads bylines—and if I do notice, it’s because something in the tone or a particular phrasing has caught my eye and I want to see if someone whose work I’ve doubted or admired is the author.

That’s also why reporters’ byline strikes always make me laugh and cringe at the same time--does anyone really care?

It does seem to me that we ought to identify ourselves a bit, that having a blog is a good idea for reporters, editors, artists, photographers and so on.

But this leads somewhere. You’re a brand, yes, but one that is more easily a fat, tempting target of bloggers, especially political ones, who will go after you for perceived biases. We’ve already had instances of looney bloggers listing newsmakers’ home phone numbers, seeming to threaten the kids, doing records checks on journalists and others. Is this where we want to go? Or do we want the institution to stand for and by our good work?

Gawker takes a look at the issue, too; make sure you read the comments.

This would seem to merit more attention than it's gotten, and it's an issue that goes well beyond The New York Times and one of its formerly probationary reporters.

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