Bloggers described as the “Vanity Press”

Bloggers described as the “Vanity Press“
As most of you know, I follow the print industry, because they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to New Media. However, newspapers are still bastions of tradition in many ways, and especially when it comes to protecting the fatted calf of professionalism. Witness this quote by Donn Friedman, Assistant Managing Editor for Production Technology and New Media Innovations, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal. It’s from a great little article in the online Editor&Publisher about New Media New Year’s resolutions.

“Do not fall for the panacea of user-generated content. It has a limited place. Now that the world is a vanity press, quality, trustworthiness and credibility will position newspaper content above others making our products valuable enough for paid subscription models to prosper.”
(Cough, cough!) You know, just when I think these guys are beginning to get it, something like this comes along. “Vanity press?”

You’re so vain.
You prob’ly think this blog is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you? Don’t you?

Rather than deal with the reality of interactive journalism (Jeff Jarvis’s wonderful news is a conversation), people like this lift themselves out of their chairs high atop their professional pedestals and do what every spoiled child does: call us names! Last week, it was “self-important.” Now we’re the “vanity press.”

And look what he says to juxtapose his institution against the bloggers. “quality, trustworthiness and credibility?” What quality, trustworthiness and credibility? Trust in the institutional press is at an all-time low. THAT’s the reality. And do guys like this think we’re just out here driving our own trains? Where do you think the energy comes from that’s pushing news into interactivity? It’s the people, stupid! It’s the readers who’ve given up on the institutional press. We don’t need to resort to pejorative terms in this debate, because our eyes can see the cultural shifting taking place.

And we’ll gladly take our growth from the bottom up, thank you very much.


  1. Donn’s making an important point here that the self-important blogosphere often misses. In the blogoworld, there is some incredibly thoughtful discussion and framing of issues, but a vanishingly small amount of original reporting. What is it that all those bloggers are linking to? That “quality, trustworthiness and credibility” in what you call “the institutional press”, where professional reporters continue to do their thing. The very fact that all those bloggers continue to link to all that “institutional press” content is an empirical demonstration of Donn’s point and a clear demonstration that the readers aren’t giving up on us. As a bit of an experiment, I followed the first link off of your blog today to Buzzmachine, one of the A‑list bloggers. And what is he linking to? Six of the first eight links were to “the institutional press”, where professional reporters are offering their “quality, trustworthiness and credibility”. That’s the grist that feeds the blogomill. That’s anything but giving up on the institutional press. That’s lapping it up in a frenzy.Two full disclosures here. I count myself a part of the “self-important blogosphere”. I blog both personally and professionally, and I think what the bloggers are doing is important. Second full disclosure is that Donn is a friend, and he and I have spent a lot of time arguing about these issues.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.