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Saturday, October 14, 2006

First person reporting in the media and in blogs

I attended a lecture or two today so now it's time to ramble about it.

First Person journalism is not about you.

Let's look at this for a bit shall we?
Do you believe to incite or giving insight, if personal, adds to the story? ;-)
Does it help to have the reader connect with the writer?
Does it make the reader feel like a participant with personal perspective and personality there in the paragraphs moving the story along?
If the story is like a conversation between the reader and the writer does that make it a more interesting story?
Lets say for example it's a newspaper story on city politics... Do you want your friend the journalist complaining to you about the mayor and his quirky excuses for not answering her questions or do you just want to read the facts about the mayors new budget?
The media have to be so careful about first person reporting. Some of my favourite reporters are people that do allow themselves to shine through. I think if you are in the public eye that takes a lot of courage. Critics tend to target the first person reporters more. Jian Ghomeshi of The Hour comes to mind. I do like his first person reports on subjects ranging from, world cup soccer to meeting Jane Goodall on a plane. He takes heat for this type of report though, because it's not in the critics taste. It's not how they learned journalism. I say let him be! He is a word smith and brings a charming friendly angle to those stories. There is room in reporting for that.
Reporting style is not a static thing. There are limits and rules to how reporters report and it's a good thing to have standards but, let the artist have room to work. The audience is not a static thing either our tastes change with the times.
Speaking of times changing...
One alternative to getting your information through the media is this. Blogs.
Thank God for blogs and bloggers freedom! Not that some of us don't try to live up to standards...
Blogs are different. Bloggers are not obliged to be informative, factual or even entertaining.
Anyone can put up a blog and say anything they want. You never know if the source is credible or not, but you will soon see if they are entertaining and engage your interests. There is no consequence to them, or you, if you read the posts or not. They won't get fired or cancelled... Most don't make money doing this and some chose not to even try to make a penny.
I was thinking about the blogs I love to frequent. I love first person blogs. I may click on that blog at first because of the subject they posted about but It's the personality of the blogger that keeps me coming back to that blog. I want to hear what they have to say in thier own voice. Freedom of choice, freedom of voice. Keep the net free!
Finding out about music, political stories, entertainment events or sports for that matter can be a combinations of blogs and media and personal research and whatever your friends have to say about it. Life is a buffet. Dig in


Allison said...

I agree Barbara, its the personal stories that keep me coming back to peoples blogs. I can read the news in the newspaper, but if you're talking about a news-type story and adding your own twist, I love that.
Rules are for those who live in the box.

Wandering Coyote said...

I think journalistic style depends on context. First person is OK when it's not "news" per se; but if a journalist is reporting news, they need to stick to the "facts" in quotes because "fact" can sometimes be sticky or at least relative). I love personal interest stories and reporting, though, for alternate information and view points. Which is why I love blogging, too.

kees said...

Hooray for life being a buffet! I totally agree, there's definitely a place for first person reporting. Just as there's always a place for devilled eggs, they may not be to everyone's taste but they'll be gone by the end of the night (I may have stretched that particular metaphor too far)

Barbara said...

Kees, now I have a craving for deviled eggs.
Allison you would have enjoyed Wordstock this weekend at Ryerson.
There was another lecture I attended on how to research stories given by two newspapermen from the Toronto Star.
Wandering you are right before it's printed they should really question if bringing first person into it adds to the story is the right style for that content.

Evelyne said...

I agree Barbara blogs are a good way to get news but also personal perspective on stories.

Adding your personal twist to a story,as a journalist, can make the article way better and funnier to read.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I agree with Wandering Coyote in that the context is key here. If news is being reported, it is bad form to bring any personal bias into the report. The facts must be presented as neutrally as possible in order to allow the reader/viewer/listener to form their own opinion and not have it slanted by the bias of the reporter.

If, however, you are doing a story which delves into the background and then branches out into a speculative report, then it is greatly enhanced by the personal voice. I enjoy hearing personal stories in media reports as well, but they have their place.

Ocean said...

I like the reading the more personal stories best. I've found you can see the persons personallity in their stories. That has been the most interesting thing in reading blogs to me.

Anonymous said...

I personally do not believe that it is in good journalistic standards to "incite" things.
I do not believe that journalists should incite hatred.

Barbara said...

nor do I anonymous.... nor do I.

She's Crafty said...

While I think it is important that "the news" stick to the facts. I do enjoy the personality of people in blogs, books, and magazine articles. Stream of consciousness writing style is my favorite!

mellowlee said...

great post Barbara, I really enjoyed it :)