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Comment: The NUJ and new media – ‘bloggers rejoice in lower standards’

February 20th, 2009Posted by in Comment, Social media and blogging

It was with some astonishment that I read the following comment from the chair of the UK’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ) professional training committee, Chris Wheal, on Adam Tinworth’s blog:

“The NUJ fails to maintain standards in blogs because bloggers themselves rejoice in having lower standards.”

Tinworth had written about his discovery in his blog’s referrer logs that an email exchange within the NUJ under the subject ‘effing blogs’ had led someone to his website.

Wheal points out some flaws in the original post, as he sees them – in particular an alleged witch hunt surrounding one of the recipients of the email.

Personally I don’t believe a witch hunt was Tinworth’s aim – he was, as Suw Charman points out in the post’s comments, writing about what he observes.

Aside from that it’s hard to engage/respond/take on board what Wheal is saying when the tone gets your back up in the way it does and makes sweeping statements like the above.

He goes on to say that the NUJ is currently looking at Yahoo Pipes and new Webvision CMS – great, talk to your members, many of whom are also bloggers, about it.

But do this in a way that respects the ‘social’ aspect of social media and learn that blogs like Adam Tinworth’s are intended as open conversations.

Wheal says he wants the NUJ training committee to engage with bloggers to raise standards – this is a lesson in how not to do it.

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  • http://Www.martincloake.com Martin Cloake

    Some perspective needed here. I think Chris should perhaps have used the word”some” when making his point. To take this one comment as indicating that the NUJ is “anti-web” isn’t a sustainable argument. There is a debate to be had about the differences between blogging and journalism, not that one is “better” or “worse” than the other, but I really think some people are overreacting here.

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Laura Oliver

    True – while we haven’t suggested here that this one comment is the basis for ‘the NUJ is “anti-web”‘ as an argument I know others have.

    But then some others are pointing to experiences they’ve had prior to this were the union’s engagement with bloggers has been less than, well, engaging. Chris is also entitled to his opinions about blogging and of course to express them – it’s more the way he went about it that got me.

  • http://Www.martincloake.com Martin Cloake

    I think the headline foes give a certain impression. The way this story has mushroomed certainly provides an interesting case study. For the record, Chris isn’t anti web but, like some bloggers, has a trenchant style. Maybe a piece on how the NUJ is engaging would be good?

  • http://www.journalism.co.uk Laura Oliver

    Absolutely – would love to hear more about some of the developments Chris himself mentioned, and am already looking at speaking with the union’s new media council about this.

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