Monday, January 28, 2008

Targeting the blogosphere

An interesting conversation is unfolding on The New York Times website on the subject of a story in today's paper titled "Target Tells a Blogger to Go Away," by Michael Barbaro.

In short, a blogger wrote an e-mail to Target, the big-box retailer, taking it to task for using an image of questionable taste on a billboard in Times Square. Target blithely dismissed the blogger's concerns on the grounds that they "do not participate with nontraditional media outlets." According to Barbaro, "Target’s policy is to focus limited resources on the big media outlets, like television stations and newspapers, which reach large numbers of shoppers."

The Times asked its readers to weigh in on a question first posed by myself and Devin Stewart in October: Do you think bloggers should expect to be treated the same as traditional media outlets?

Some of the responses:

To me, most blogs are a disappointment. They are quickly taken over by hardened "pros" and hardened "cons" whereas they seem to be a vehicle to explore different ideas. -- Deweyjon

No, althought the news media may be somewhat biased in its reporting; most bloggers are far too opinionated to relate objectively without reflecting their opinions. Of course, ideally, all reporting should be objective and non-biased. — Bill M

you think that I should be allowed to perform back-of-the-eye surgery just because I happen to have an opinion on its benefits and drawbacks? — ErikK

And my personal favorite:

Real journalists tend to have some education as journalists and some exposure to journalistic ethics. They maybe even had to pass a class or two in college dealing with the legal and ethical issues in their profession.There is not yet anything resembling a professional code of ethics for bloggers. And anyone with an Internet connection who can type can call himself or herself a blogger. It's the Wild West out there.In view of that, I don't think bloggers should expect to be treated like real journalists. — Patricia


Cathy Mullins said...

It seems to me that Target is confused: the blogger is a CUSTOMER and needs to be treated like a CUSTOMER. I don't get the part about her blog not being a traditional media outlet. Excuse me? Who cares? She's a customer. What's up?

vegetablej said...

I totally agree with the customer comment. Target should take any complaints seriously if they want to do good business.

I think bloggers are journalists if we publish our work. Whether we do it well is a different matter from whether we are "journalists". Obviously, we are journalists in the strict sense of the word, if we write journals. Many of us may not be professionals, which means we are doing it for love not money; that doesn't preclude quality.

In my opinion, whether we are paid or not, and write for large media organizations or not, makes not a whit of difference to whether we are journalists. This is a newish field with expanding parameters. I like to think that blogging is going to replace a lot of second-rate journalism in the coming years. I know I prefer to read online much of the time. There is more variety and a richness of content for a lot of specialized interests. Reading a magazine or newspaper, we are stuck with whatever the editor thinks is important. I don't always agree.

However, we can't "demand" any kind of respect or "treatment" from anyone that they are not willing to give. Like mainstream journalists we have to earn respect by the quality and dedication we bring to our work.

It might be short-sighted of businesses to refuse respect to bloggers as policy, though, considering their growing readership and influence.