Passion isn’t for sale

The Houston Chronic(what?)cle is looking for bloggers in what appears to be an(other) attempt by a mainstream news outlet to harness the passion of the blogosphere under its own brand. Dwight Silverman asks:

Would you like to tell the world about them? At Chron.com, we want to give you the chance to write about your passions, the things about which you consider yourself an expert, on our site.

Are you into gardening, scrapbooking, astronomy, cooking, wine, fishing, knitting, birding, hiking, camping, cars, jewelry, antiques, travel, electronics, books … ?

This model seems a logical move for local media companies, but it stops short of acknowledging the already existing citizens media community. Hence, the strategy is shortsighted and destined for failure. Mr. Silverman wants passion, but that doesn’t necessarily translate under the banner of a news organization. I’d rather see them pay existing bloggers than try to create their own.

Never forget Terry’s rule of citizens media: People who write because they have something to say are very different than people who are paid to write something. Passion can’t be bought.

Mr. Silverman’s statement — and one assumes the Houston Chronic(what?)cle’s position — puts bloggers in their place by assigning them to nice niches like knitting, birding and cooking. Sigh.

The conversation that IS citizens media already exists in every community in America (and probably around the world). Why big media refuses to accept that is both apparent and sad.

Comments

  1. terry, on that note, you just might find this amusing:

    http://www.seancoon.org/2006/01/att_blogging_made_speechless.html

  2. Terry,

    The piece doesn’t say anything about excluding existing bloggers from applying. If they are looking to create bloggers specifically for their paper, it might be because they don’t want to pay them. And the logic of putting bloggers in niches just follows some of the instructions given by outlets like About.com and other well-meaning but narrowly focused how-to books and websites.

    and who says one can’t be passionate about cooking or birding? Passion doesn’t always have to be the exclusive hallmark of high-thinking.

    Oh, and passion might not be able to be bought–but that way of thinking is highly discouraging to indviduals for whom writing, and even blogging, is indeed a passion. It’s kind of elitest to say one always has to suffer for one’s passion and art if one wants to remain pure and passionate. Arent’ you passionate about something, and don’t you make a living from it?

  3. Tish, I’m not suggesting (even remotely) that it’s an either/or thing involving passion and getting paid. What I am saying is that one of the charms about any blogging community is that all of the members are passionate about what they do. What begins as a labor of love may or may not turn out to be profitable. The point is these people write, because they have something to say.

    The Chronicle wants this passion, but they want to control it, which means just another 1.0 strategy. And passion wouldn’t be passion if it could be controlled.

  4. Hi Terry,

    There are some significant leaps in logic you got up there … #1: Because the Chronicle didn’t acknowledge that people in their city are already blogging, their project will fail. Please explain that to me.

    Yes, I doubt the Chronicle truly “gets it” yet. But everyone, including big media companies, starts somewhere, and the Chronicle is starting. According to the paper, they’ve already gotten some interest from people who hadn’t considered blogging before …

  5. Joe,

    I’m saying that the local citizens media community is a great resource for any news organization, and those who are able to tap into it reap significant benefits. Nashville Is Talking is an example.

    Why try and create your own when the real deal already exists?

  6. Terry, thanks for the reply. I think the answer to your question is “Audience.” Local newspapers still reaches a whole heckuva lot of people — many who don’t blog or read blogs yet.

    I don’t see why existing bloggers would mind if a local newspaper encouraged new folk to join the blogging fray, and then gave the new people the tools to do so. I also don’t see how such an endeavor is destined for failure.

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