I get a fair number of press releases and contacts from P.R. people. A “fair” number is probably understating it; other bloggers will understand what I’m talking about. Often they’ll be offers to contact researchers and other experts. Generally I ignore these or I demur in some fashion. Why? Because I just have a hard time trusting those who proactively contact me. I’m not impugning their character, as much being skeptical of their enthusiasm (and to be frank, some of them even come out and say they’ll write the blog post for me!). In fact I could easily splash and pepper many of my more policy oriented posts with contemporary relevance with quotes from these people. But I do not make much use of their services (though now and then I’ll become aware of a paper because of a press contact). What exactly would such quotes be adding? I’d just select the ones which fit my narrative or preconception. On occasion I will quote experts, but these are almost never (actually, probably never, but I don’t recall) cases where I sent out an email asking for a quote. Rather, it starts as a conversation, and it turns out that I think it might be useful for others to know. Additionally, these are not experts who are seeking me out, but people whose opinions I greatly weight beforehand. I know they’re experts, I don’t trust their claims to be experts.
In regards to the issue of being a journalist or not, I’m rather ambivalent as most of you know. I’m certainly not a reporter in a traditional fashion, though I do resemble a columnist I suppose. I’ve been reflecting on what I’m doing on this weblog more after the recent issues with plagiarism. Unlike some I’ve never been on a deadline or been desperate to generate new copy. Because I often don’t post or seek original quotes you won’t see me making quotes up (I’m usually taking quotes from other sites, and linking back to them). And as for reworking prose and passing it off as mine, the style on this website is seat-of-the-pants, and my focus is on getting information out there, and information back. I take trying to “understand stuff” seriously. Cutting corners would defeat the whole purpose.