Commodity vs. Community: Don’t be fungible.

If you haven’t already read Alison Hamm’s post on Getting Serious About Community get thee a-clicking right now. Don’t even bother reading this thing I’m writing, it won’t compare.

OK. If you read it and came back, that’s cool. I’m sure you agree it was worth the trip.  I’m just going to highlight one little bit that really caught my eye:

If community building becomes a new competitive advantage, then declaring a perspective may become more valuable than seeking objectivity. Hirschorn wrote that if journalism was no longer weighed down by the need to create an omnibus news product, then “reportage could make the case for why it matters, and why it might even be worth paying for.”

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If news and journalism are to avoid becoming fungible bits of text, then the people doing the writing have to come clean. There is no such thing as objectivity. I know that’s almost a sin in the old school of journalism, but at this point I think we can all agree. Obviously there should be an attempt to achieve the ideal. Different perspectives should be sought and where they are not hair-brained they should be represented. (I wrote about this before).

Like a good scientist, you go in with a set of beliefs, they develop as you do the research, they end up being a theory, you test the theory, if it passes the test, you publish it and let others have a go at it.

If the theory is “proved” wrong, you still have the evidence, you build another theory, and so on. Scientists are the most trusted people there are. They are not objective. They create stories, they see if the hold up, when they don’t, they just create another one.

Journalists could learn a lot from them.

Side note: Anyone want to get into a discussion about Kuhn vs. Popper and the philosophy of objectivity in science… comment away.


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