In opposition to ‘getting naked’

By Steve Outing

In my latest Editor & Publisher Online column, mentioned here the other day, among other things I suggest that all journalists should have a blog and that they should use it — and the interactivity with the audience that blogs afford — to be more transparent and open about their lives and activities. I meant that as a means to get out of journalism-ivory-tower mode and present themselves as more human.

For another viewpoint, I encourage you to read this piece in Snarkaholic by Tish Grier, who makes some good points about journalists who may have less than idyllic lives and may have good reason for not sharing too much.

Grier wrote this to me in a personal note (published here with her permission):

“Many, many adults should not mix their personal blogs or too much personal information with their professional writing. Face it, Steve, unless an adult has a wonderful, wholesome personal life — replete with spouse, kids, and the right social connections — his/her personal life is not something that most people want to know about. It becomes, in colloquial lexicon, ‘Too Much Information.’

“And, let’s face another fact, some of the best journalists and writers are folks who live a bit on the edge — who are single, who are a bit debauched, who are free spirits with complicated lives. They’re not always good family men and women attending the right charity fundraiser.

“It would be a shame to force journalists to put up personal pages that would be constructed only to show the world a perfected public personna that one is agreeable to the wider world. That would be just as, if not more, dishonest than if they’d made up a story about a kid dying of cancer.”

Some good points, Tish. I don’t advocate that media organizations mandate “getting naked,” as you put it. Yet I still think that for most journalists, opening themselves up to their audiences can be a very good thing.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

4 Responses to "In opposition to ‘getting naked’"

  1. Steve
    Steve 11 years ago .Reply

    She makes good points, but it’s a bit of false dichotomy. Look at Malcom Gladwell’s and Scott Adams’ blogs. Their blogs do a lot to help you understand where they’re coming from without telling you who they’re sleeping with, or even what city they happen to live in.

    Scott Adams isn’t a journalist, of course, but it’s illustrative in that cartoonists walk a fine line when it comes to politics. Typically they’re either in the mold of Doonesbury (political) or Snoopy (apolitical), but not in between.

  2. Amy Gahran
    Amy Gahran 11 years ago .Reply

    Well, speaking as a media pro who definitely doesn’t represent the Leave-It-to-Beaver collective social hallucination — I mave mentioned in my blogs some pretty significant and unusal things about my personal life which were also relevant to the topics of my blog.

    Some people squawked, and some people warned me this was professional suicide.

    And it all blew over pretty damn fast. No negative consequences as far as I can tell, and definitely some very positive ones.

    I understand Tish’s perspective and caution. Everyone needs to make their own decisions. But put criticism into perspective — a few inevitable squawks does not equal burning at the stake.

    IMHO, of course.

    – Amy Gahran

  3. Tish Grier
    Tish Grier 11 years ago .Reply

    thanks for the link, Steve!

    just a quick comment to the other Steve’s comment–with all due respect to Malcom Gladwel (and I have read his blog) the blog is more like a supplement or editorial column. It’s more like a good p/r piece, helping to promote Gladwell as a thinker on topical subjects. It’s about his thought rather than about *him*.

    Gladwell is, of course, transparent, which is a good thing. we know who he is, a bit about him, and that’s fine.Transparency can help facilitate communication between journalists and an audience. But it’s quite a bit different than the type and kind of naked blogging I’m cautioning against. My concern is that media outlets, big and small, in their desperation to create revenue, will ask (or even demand) more than polite transparency in an effort to reach a younger audience who are perceived as more open in their communication. That’s where it could, to use a Gladwell term, reach a tipping point.

  4. […] [Update — 0905, 7 June — Snarkoholic’s Tish Grier offers some insight between transparency and getting naked.] […]

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