So, last night Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave a nice little speech at the American Society of News Editors conference in DC, and apparently doesn’t find bloggers to be all that trustworthy. Maybe he was just trying to fit in with the print heavy crowd, maybe he only reads poorly written blogs or maybe he just really doesn’t like bloggers – who knows. However he did note…
“We’re not in the news business, and I’m not here to tell you how to run a newspaper. We are computer scientists. And trust me, if we were in charge of the news, it would be incredibly accurate, incredibly organized, and incredibly boring. There is an art to what you do. And if you’re ever confused as to the value of newspaper editors, look at the blog world. That’s all you need to see. So we understand how fundamental tradition and the things you care about are.“
Awww. Sweet ol’ guy. In any case, strange words from the CEO of a company who runs, as Gawker notes, “The biggest single blog network in the world.”
Is the title journalist, or even plain old “writer” a more professional title than blogger?
Schmidt’s comment, while oddball for sure considering Google runs Blogger, is not the first comment or action to make it clear that some assume bloggers bite when compared to other writers. Last year there was the fiasco of the new FTC blogger guidelines. The year before last, Target slammed bloggers as non-media and of course these are just some examples. The debate over bloggers vs. other writers is on-going. Who is better. Who is more trustworthy. So on and so on. Even my own experience has been like this…
A long time ago, before I became a blogger, I was writing professional stuff like magazine articles, business proposals, brochures, and other tech-minded docs. Then one day I apparently fell off the professional writing wagon – I started a blog.
Not only did I start a blog but I liked blogging better than other forms of writing, stuck with it, found blog clients and quit all that other stuff. Personally I can list a million reasons why blogging is better than all the other forms of writing I could be doing and I do consider blogging professional. Really, if you can make a living blogging, it’s professional enough right? It pays my bills. Major businesses have blogs – even major print businesses. That said blogging is professional enough for me.
On the flip side, I’ve read more than a few comments at writers forums or in chats where people mention that they’re cutting back on blogs or blog clients to do something more professional. I’ve heard people say stuff like, “I’m a writer NOT a blogger” with at least a little snide in their tone. I know for sure that some of my family and offline friends seriously think I don’t work (I just blog all day) BUT these same folks had deep admiration for my job when they could read my writing in print form; “You’re a writer!”
When I’m out and about or meeting new people and I’m asked what I do for a living, as folks often are at the start of conversations, I get very different looks when I say, “I blog” vs, “I write.” Can you guess which title garners a more favorable look?
Maybe it’s how bloggers are portrayed in the media – the few I’ve seen on television or in movies are usually slacker-like shut-ins or people who give away their pals deep dark secrets. Maybe it’s because not everyone reads blogs but most people like magazines. Maybe it’s because writer conveys an old school art form and blogging, well, not so much. Blogging is still considered a new medium by many, although it’s truly not; it’s simply a changing medium. I can’t say why people look down at blogging and not other forms of writing as much, but in my experience there is a noticeable difference.
In any case, I’ll be back soon with some ideas about how you can keep it professional if you happen to be a happy blogger.
What do you think? Is “writer” a more professional term than “blogger?”
Christina Brown says
I am a writer and a blogger. Period. I can not separate the two mediums.
.-= Christina Brown´s last blog ..Top Ten Things You Missed at The 2010 Streamy Awards =-.
Thursday Bram says
I would have thought that Schmidt, at least, would place some value on blogging. After all, the sheer number of blogs running AdSense seem to make blogging very profitable for Google. But that comment about how Google isn’t a news company just doesn’t seem to be accurate. The company may not produce articles or videos, but they are certainly in the business of getting information to the public. Why else would there be news.google.com?
.-= Thursday Bram´s last blog ..Blogging with Integrity: Tips from Susan Getgood =-.
Maybe he wants me to take Google ads off my blog?
.-= Peggy´s last blog ..Going nowhere? Have a staycation. =-.
Wendy Sullivan says
Meh, I think he may be on to something. Now, I expect backlash at this, but have you seen the quality of a lot of blogspot blogs? Not all, but a lot, are utter linkwhore garbage. If he’s only looking at Google hosted blogs, I can’t really blame him for not taking them seriously.
.-= Wendy Sullivan´s last blog ..The Pulitzer Prizes Announced =-.
Jack Busch says
I think you’re misconstruing what he’s saying. He’s not saying that all bloggers are disreputable, unintelligent and poor writers. He’s saying that the blogosphere (do people still use this world) has less editorial scrutiny than print media. He’s touting the benefits of such editorial selectivity and quality control, not mutually excluding quality from blogs.
He’s saying, almost anything you read in the New York Times or in Newsweek or in Wired is going to be high quality, factually accurate and well-researched.
Some of what you read from blogs will also meet this criteria. I can name many, many good blogs that consistently produce material of higher caliber than some print publications.
If you had to pick 100 random posts from 100 random blogs, you would probably get a lower ratio of high quality to low quality articles than if you picked 100 random articles from 100 mainstream print publications.
I’m sure he would say the same thing about YouTube. There are some very informative, very well-produced, very entertaining clips on YouTube. But there’s also a ridiculous amount of pointlessness (and have you read the comments?). Meanwhile, you won’t find this stuff on HBO.
That’s not a perfect analogy, but you get my drift.
As a blogger, I am not one of the snooty, digital hating naysayers. I just think that Schmidt was talking about something else.
The thing about blogging is this: anyone with an Internet connection can blog. That includes good writers, bad writers and non-writers.
Not anyone can get an article printed in Harper’s Magazine.
The difference: editors.
He’s talking about the value of editors. Not the lack of value of all bloggers.
You took the words right off the tips of my fingers and saved me about 10 minutes. 😉 I didn’t think of the YouTube thing, but you’re completely right on that point, too.
Wish I had something more to add, but … What you said, exactly! 😀 (And I’m not saying that just because I’m an editor! LOL)
In defense of Mr. Schmidt, I think a lot of people tend to forget that Google is a customer service provider. They make their money when people click on those Adsense ads but they have to provide a good browsing experience for the readers to be able to find that path. And any SEO writer will tell you that the better the quality of writing on the blog, the better the Adsense click through rate. It behooves Google to provide the best browsing experience possible to keep readers engaged and clicking. And we all know what a lot of these Adsense blogs look like. Regurgitated PLR – spun out so horribly that you can’t tell what it originally said – and used over and over again from site to site. When readers come to these types of blogs, which are far more numerous than you might think, they click off immediately and don’t give those Adsense ads a second look. After seeing enough of them, they may even be tempted to switch search engines to see if they can get better results. In a sense, if we have Adsense on our blogs, we’re basically Google employees and all they really want us to do is iron our uniforms and wash our aprons occasionally so the guests keep coming back and stay on the page long enough to click one of those ads.
.-= Beamer´s last blog ..97 Dollar Ebooks – Why I’m Trying To Sell The Battledome =-.
I thinks what Eric Schmidt is trying to convey on his statement,”…. if we were in charge of the news, it would be incredibly accurate, incredibly organized, and incredibly boring.”, is that if he is gonna write something it would be just like writing a code, accurate or perfect in a sense because if in-case one syntax is written inaccurately then eventually the program won’t work(that’s the way they are/scientists). He was just trying to say what would happen if he is gonna write some and not actually pointing out that bloggers are unprofessional.