Sunday, December 19, 2004

A piece on "unscrupulous bloggers" in the New York Times Magazine:

There are two obvious differences between bloggers and the traditional press: unlike bloggers, professional journalists have a) editors and b) the need to maintain a professional reputation so that sources will continue to talk to them. I've been a journalist for more than a decade, and on two occasions I asked acquaintances whether I could print information that they had told me in social situations. Both times, they made clear that if I published they would never speak to me again. Without a reputation for trustworthiness, neither friendship nor journalism can be sustained over time.

I don't mind working with editors - many of them are totally cool guys. But I also love being the editor of my own. As an editor, I'm being kind to myself most of the time: I allow myself not to explain those really obvious things about Ukraine or Russia (I sort of assume everyone knows what Chernobyl is and what Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment is about); and I also free myself from having to justify every little thing I bother to write about (Why should this or that be interesting to your American/European/non-Ukrainian/non-Russian audiences, Veronica? - I may know the answer to this question or I may not, but it doesn't really matter, as long as what I write about is interesting to me). It wouldn't hurt, of course, if I could somehow pay myself for being such a sweet editor, but oh well, there are other ways of making money, and "traditional" journalism is just one of them.

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