Two issues I’ve been struggling with since long before this book project are whether blogging is part of or replaces my former two careers—journalism and PR. I think the answer is that blogging will become a part of both. Let me explain one at a time:
Journalism. In the last two years, it seems to me, blogging has evolved into a highly credible sharing medium. Sneers and put-downs about lonely teenage diary-writing are today stale and antiquated. I watch Scobleizer reveal how Hell-bent my partner is on getting technology news out first. The reports that came out during this recent tsunami disaster, were scattered and opinionated at first, but became richer, daily almost by exponential factors. Google and PubSub became the "editorial" organizers and we each customized our own home-delivery editions. , depending on what we wanted: shocking visuals, donation information, relief reports or to search for missing persons. After a few days, blogging was pervaded by in-depth and moving first-person accounts. This was blogging at its best. Much more than with earlier tests of 9/11, Trent Lott or the recent conventions, this terrible disaster showed the collective networked power of blogging as a news-gathering and distributing mechanism. It differs differs from traditional journalism in two ways: (1) Blogs are voluntary and decentralized not assigned by an editor. They become organized, not by a layout desk working around an ad hole, but by search engines, and (2) Blogs are filtered after publication by readers rather than before by editors. Lack of second-party editing, still hurts blogging, I think, but more in lines of readability than veracity. The Blogosphere is becoming a credible source and readers are most vigilant guardians of truth. They ask tougher questions than most of my editors did.
PR. Over the years I practiced it, I saw PR—at least in the tech sector—subside from value-added translator of technical jargon, and a custom-distributor of news into the editorial needs of different publications into something prceived to be in the ethical pecking order of lawyers and politicians. While PR itself was a filtering system, its practitioners have all-too-often become something to filter. The causes of this could well be the subject of a second book if Steve Rubel doesn’t beat me to the punch. The result is that today PR communications channels are generally perceived as being corrupt and uncredible. As such, they have deteriorated as a business tool. Blogging today has superior credibility, adheres to better rules of self-governance and reshapes how and why PR will be practiced if it is to survive. PR people cannot just treat blogging as another channel down which they will toss the same old crap. Their new role will be to teach company officials to speak for themselves, in a plain language and adhering to the rules that makes blogging a more credible communications channel. This creates a huge opportunity for the very best of PR practitioners. I think blogging is indeed part of a new PR that has only now just begun to form, but will take shape and offer value in the not too distant future--but blogging and PR practitioners need to approach each other with the same caution as two amorous porcupines.