Breaking Down That Wall

By Keith Kloor | July 5, 2011 4:52 pm

While reading the intro to the new SciAm blog network (launched today), this caught my eye:

We are trying to eliminate the artificial line between “blogging” and “journalism” and focus on good, accurate writing, no matter what form it comes in or what software is used to produce it. Our bloggers are a part of our team, as “˜continuous correspondents’ or “˜full-time freelancers’. Thus, I made careful choices keeping this in mind ““ I invited bloggers whose expertise, quality of writing, and professionalism fit well with the mission and general tenor of our organization.

I think it’s admirable that SciAm wants to professionalize “blogging” in a way that puts it on par with “journalism.” I’m all for it. Just one teensy question:  So if science bloggers are being welcomed into the magazine fold, as “part of our team, as ‘continuous correspondents’ or ‘full-time freelancers,” I assume they’re being financially compensated as such?

Just asking.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: bloggers, blogosphere, blogs, Journalism
  • Hector M.

    An even more significant question would be whether bloggers taking different views (about climate or other scientific issues) will be allowed to participate.

  • Jeff Norris


    Keith
    Going back to your  response to MT  about being a referee.
    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/2011/07/02/global-warming-shouldnt-hog-all-the-headlines/#comment-67507
    Should the bloggers connected to  Sci Am now be obligated to play referee paid or not?   More importantly would the highly opinionated individuals on both sides willingly submit to their judgments?
     I gotta ask  this also and understand if it is too personal,  has anyone from there approach you maybe  for a guest post? 

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Jeff,

    Your first question is a good one. As to your second question, no, I haven’t been approached. I’m kinda like the Rodney Dangerfield of science/climate bloggers. I accept my my peon status in the pecking order with full servings of humble pie.

    The other thing to know is that I don’t go guest posts, anyway. I have very strong feelings about the Huffington post business model, and also take a dim view of the non-existent to paltry compensation most journalist/bloggers receive for their services in these “networks.” One of these days, I’ll get around to laying it all out in there in a blog post.

  • Pascvaks

    I submit that the ‘”artificial line between “blogging” and “journalism”’ is one that exists more in the minds of print journalists than bloggers.  Indeed, it’s more of a Victorian Class distinction by the Lords and Ladies of Journalism than by the Members of the Commons.

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings lucia

    I assume they’re being financially compensated as such?

    In most cases, wouldn’t paying the blogger turn them into columnists? Other than being paid by newspapers, I’ve never seen much distinction between columnists and bloggers. It’s likely the average columnist is in some sense ‘better’ than the average blogger. But that happens both because someone who is employed to do something can devote working hours to the task and because people who are terrible at the task generally can’t persuade someone to pay them.

  • http://rankexploits.com/musings lucia

    Keith-
    I’d be interested in reading your comments on HuffPo’s business model. I liked this article:
    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/12/the-economics-of-blogging-and-the-huffington-post/
     

  • http://collide-a-scape.com Keith Kloor

    Lucia (6),

    I remember reading that and many of his readers picked up on some of the problems with the analysis, starting with commenter #1.

    Let me make a few distinctions, for clarification purposes. The HuffPo business model is both brilliant and corrosive. They use willing free labor (unpaid bloggers) to bulk up content, they poach the work of professional journalists–reproducing stories published elsewhere (Their banner headline right now is to a Reuters story), and they use killer SEO (search engine optimization).

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with linking/aggregating to the work of journalists, as long as there is acknowledgment. It provides the the writer (who is already paid by his employer) and the story greater exposure.

    I do have a problem with all the unpaid bloggers, but I can understand why someone trying to make a name for him or herself (or even a well known, established name) would blog for free, since there’s the potential for tremendous exposure.

    In contrast, though, Tina Brown at the Daily Beast has eschewed this model and feels strongly about paying writers for their work.

    As for science bloggers and all these networks, well, I’m okay with them in the main because they have given a platform to many new and wonderful voices–many of them scientists. And if scientists want to write for free, that’s fine. But I have issues with science journalists doing it for free or pennies on the dollar because it devalues our work in the aggregate.

    Now I singled out SciAm because of that statement made by one of the editors, indicating that they truly value the work of bloggers and want them to be seen as part of the professional ecosystem of the magazine. If so, then all I can say is great and here’s hoping they get paid like an actual freelancer.

    My overall philosophy can be summed up by this commenter at fivethirtyeight:

    “Writers who routinely give their work away for “exposure” are participating in devaluing the work of good, experienced writers.”

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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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