A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take part in a one-day writing course offered by the Canadian Investor Relations Institute. It was taught by Bernard Simon, a former managing editor of the Financial Post and now a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times (view some of his work here). I am constantly trying to apply what he taught in my everyday writing, both for this blog and at work.Bernard was kind enough to let me interview him for this blog, and his answers to my questions are below.
BlogCampaigning: How has the internet affected your writing?
Bernard Simon:The internet has had a profound effect on journalism.
It has dramatically sped up the news cycle. Many journalists accustomed to writing stories once a day or once a week are now filing pieces for their publications’ websites, and updating them regularly.
The internet has turned reporters into multi-taskers. Once upon a time, reporters expected simply to research and write stories. Now, many appear on website videos, host blogs and use cellphone cameras to add a new dimension to their stories.
Stories are no longer spiked for lack of space in the paper. Those that don’t fit in the paper can now run on the internet – one less source of newsroom complaints!
BlogCampaigning: How do you think blogs are influencing the way we write and read the news?
Bernard Simon: The most obvious impact of blogs is the array of new (and some loud old) voices that they bring to the news process. Many media websites have become non-stop town-hall meetings, with all that entails. Readers have access to a far wider variety of views. Conversely, they can make their own voices heard more loudly.
It’s both good and bad. For instance;
-- Blogs bring a welcome diversity of views. Some are wonderfully well-informed and insightful; others are ill-informed, badly written, and not much better than diatribes.
-- Bloggers and those who post comments are quick to point out journalists’ mistakes. Yet many are reluctant to admit and correct their own.
-- Blogs have broken some big stories, and added useful perspectives to already-published ones. But they tend to have fewer resources than the established media, with the result that some do not match the standards applied by mainstream media outlets (for instance, fact-checking and quality of writing).
BlogCampaigning: Do you have anything else you want to say about blogs and/or online news?
Bernard Simon: It’s really important that we don’t allow the advantages of online news – speed, accessibility and variety of views – to undermine the reputation for fairness, accuracy and balance that mainstream media outlets have painstakingly built up over the years. This is one of the big challenges facing established media outlets as they open their websites to more outside voices.
Thank you very much for your time, Bernard!