In the last few months there’s been quite a bit of sycophantic behaviour around the tech/web/blog scene in Montréal, hyperbole in reporting and over exposure for some. This has been bugging me and I know I’m not the only one. A secondary problem I have with this is that I know the majority of the people involved in both “sides” of the matter, not the for and against, the writers and subjects or inviters and invitees so it makes it harder for me to comment on that without insulting someone I’d rather not insult. That being said, I have to write at least a little something or my head will explode. I decided to do so by simply giving a couple of pointers that I think bloggers, “blogger/ing journalists” and journalists (especially tech) should keep in mind.
Get some perspective
I know it’s fun when someone local does good but just because it’s the first time you’ve heard of something does not make it “the first”, it just means you finally got your head out of your ass because someone closer to you is doing it. Try to put it in perspective, we’re doing a lot of great stuff in Montréal but not a whole lot of it on the web is the first anything. There have also been a lot of things happening for years on the internet around the world, try to know what that is and learn about more than what has happened in the 10 minutes you’ve been interested.
Broaden your horizons
Might seem very close to the previous but it’s something different. Once you’ve gotten perspective, look around and talk too more people, there are more than 4-5 people who can explain the web, blogs, social software, web 2.0, etc. At the very least consider anglos when you’re franco and vice versa, don’t fall into stereotypes either and please try to connect through other chanels than what you’ve been using for 10 years, drop the rollodex and connect with someone new.
Don’t be lazy
If the first two were “stop talking out of your ass”, this last one is “don’t let others use your ass for talking”. You’ve now got general perspective and you’ve broadened your horizons? Put that to work for each case. Just because you received a press release or because someone you had coffee with once tells you about it does not make it so. People put spin on their stuff, try not to get dizzy. Grab “The Google” and do some basic research, is that really a first, is it really that big, does it work? Does he know what the fuck he’s talking about? Are there other sources?
Make an effort
Before I finish, I know I have to add a note here because some will assume I’m preaching for my own choir. I’m not. I can hear the “ooooh he’s bitter it wasn’t him”. No. I’m not looking to be called on more often, I’m asking for more diversity and thorouness in what is presented at large. There are some fantastic things and people around here, some of which I pointed out when I talked about the top bloggers and there are a lot more that we never hear about.
I’ve heard time and again (and said so myself) that “we always see the same faces on Québec tv shows”, some of it is due to the small size of the market but a lot of it is due to laziness and echochamber inbreeding. I know this “web situation” is nothing new and it happens in all media on all subjects but lets make an effort people, this is a new medium, could we try and do it just a wee bit better this time around?
Je suis bien d’accord avec toi! Je suis exaspéré de cette situation moi aussi. Ce qui est triste c’est que ceux qui ont le plus de visibilité ne sont pas ceux qui ont le meilleur contenu. Ça me décourage un peu de voir un blogueur parler des blogues à Radio-Canada ou TVA et qui fait une faute de grammaire à chaque phrase. Ça montre qu’il y a eu très peu de recherche de la part des journalistes.
Ton phénomène de “echochamber” est comme tu dis assez répandu, surtout pour ce qui est “technology-related”. Dès qu’il se passe quelque chose de moindrement informatique dans les nouvelles, on a toujours la même face de Bruno Guglielminetti. Les journalistes ont l’air d’avoir les deux jambes sciées en deux dès qu’il s’agit de parler de technologie.
“The Google”, c’est-tu comme “Le Microsoft” de mon ancienne belle-mère? ;-)
I agree, though. But it wasn’t until I had to draft press releases that I realized how many so-called articles were in fact only printed press releases (granted, that was years ago), so perhaps the public needs to be educated to want and expect more, as well. I’d say the same problem occurs in other areas, where you’d think “the media” shared one rollodex with only one name under some topics. Drives me nuts, tires spectators who always see the same face, and defeats the purpose completely.
patrick, let me just say, you have been putting out a hell of a lot of good quality blog posts this month. you’re noticing things and writing about them, taking note of québécois blogging/web culture and its development, etc. i really like it. peace.
It’s funny to see how once you’re in the system – meaning once you’ve appeared in a newspaper article or a tv interview – you suddenly get lots of other journalists calling you for interviews. I think traditional media journalists tend to do their research in traditional media and forgo the Web (at least in more depth), so they end up talking to the same people and repeating what their colleagues said before them.
A few years back, I wrote an article for a magazine about safe online dating. A tv station found out about it and called me to comment on the case of a woman who had been abused by a guy she met on the Web. Since that interview, I regularly get calls from that tv station, asking me to comment on anything that has something to do with the Web (and they want me to be at the studio in 15 minutes!). It’s rarely stuff in my areas of expertise, so I end up referring them to other people I know. It’s amazing to see how there’s a small network of researchers and they all seem to pass the same contact names to each other, years after years. It’s a bit like Hollywood, I guess. You just have to get your foot in the door. ;-)
A lot of us are freelancers though and a tv report or a magazine article is a tough thing to refuse when we know how important and difficult self-promotion can be. There’s a danger of being over-exposed but I understand why some people never refuse interviews and are pro-active about getting them.
This being said, variety is good. We should have more of it.
C’est une bonne coincidence que tu abordes ce sujet car Yves Williams a publié quelquechose dans le même esprit:
Un peu dans le même esprit mais il s’attarde surtout aux médias classique qui selon lui ne couvrent pas assez la techno alors que je me balance un peu du volume, je veux plus de rigueur, peut importe que ce soit 1 ou 15. Du même coup ont peut espérer que si c’est plus rigoureux, les proportions de couvertures d’un projet vs un autre seront plus balancées.
Je considère aussi tout ce qui est en ligne comme valide en terme de couverture, pas simplement les sites des médias traditionnels.
“the future is here. it’s just not evenly distributed.”
Most people can’t be bothered #1 or #2, and that is fine.
Ignore the journos if they irritate you. They are always behind, by definition: they can only report on what has already been done, usualy at a scale large enough warranting their attention so they can move copies of their own work.
Of course, nothing is black and white and the above does not apply to all journalism/journalists. People like Michel Dumais, for example, are very close to the leading edge. At least that’s the impression I get. I don’t actually look at any of that stuff. My attention is on those folks actually doign stuff… ;)