One wonders whether Andrew Marr had been imbibing prior to his recent rant about bloggers in the Telegraph. I’m not pimply, nor does my mother have a basement! However, his outburst has highlighted a number of issues which show how blinkered some are about technology, its uses, and its users. A salutory lesson perhaps for any website owner who thinks s/he understands their site visitors and what they want?
Citizen journalists do not automatically equal bloggers. Many who report as citizens may not even know what a blog is. There are many citizen journalists who operate, in much the same way as the mainstream media, using different formats – audio and podcasts, including live phone chats and news broadcasts with tools such as ipadio; video – streamed live over tools such as Qik or Livestream or uploaded to sites such as Vimeo, CitizenTube and Youtube; Twitter, Facebook, SMS, photos on Flickr or sent directly to the Beeb or ITV News channels, and more. The list of options for a citizen journalist is endless.
In addition, it is debatable what proportion of blogs are anonymous. Comments, perhaps, but most bloggers go to the effort of blogging to be known for their contributions, not to hide. There are well-documented instances of anonymous bloggers – Belle Du Jour springs to mind – but most seek the chance of the plaudits that come with a well-written blog.
However, what is perhaps most important is that all of us are citizen journalists. If your business is in a niche sector, it is likely that you have staff with unrivalled skills and knowledge who are perfectly capable of sharing these with the outside world. Not just to demonstrate your company’s expertise, but also for internet marketing purposes. Once again, these journalistic contributions need not be simply text, but could be videos, audio or photos.
Think of the mainstream media as including trade journals and you can begin to see where ‘citizen journalists’ is a misnomer. Whether it is interviews with acknowledged experts within your sector, white papers or a video clip of a manufacturing process, how is this so different from those in Mr Marr’s position? Being able to wield a plume and ink is in no way the only means by which an inspiring, thought-provoking or investigative piece of ‘journalism’ can see the light of day, and quality is not in itself assured within our media, as some of those in niche industries have discovered!
So, my take on the matter is that we should all, as part of our internet marketing campaigns, consider ourselves as citizen journalists and write about what we know; subjects that will bring us readership, stimulate debate, promote our products, and allow us to share and communicate. Which is, after all, what the internet is all about.