Peter Himler calls me (at least via link) one of the “self-anointed new media pundits” and lumps me in among those who “believe the live media interview (is) outmoded.” While I appreciate the link (no such thing as bad publicity), I think he misunderstood what I wrote. At least he misrepresented it.
Calling what I wrote “vitriol” is a bit much. But the good thing is because what I wrote is available for everyone to see (and not buried in a reporter’s notebook), people can reach their own judgment.
:Updated – Peter weighs in with a nice comment below. Thanks for the clarification, Peter.
Actually, what I said was I thought all sides in the controversy had overreacted. Of course there’s a place for the phone or in-person interview… that’s the way we do most of them. And I suggested a way Calcanis and Winer could have done the interview and still have had their “cover” through an audio recording. Journalists quite frequently record interviews; in principle, there’s no reason why Winer or Calcanis couldn’t do the same (provided they cleared it in advance with the reporter.)
My disagreement with Levy was with the sky-is-falling nature of his lament, and his contention that journalists are “not acting out of self-interest, but a sense of duty to inform the population.”
Of course there’s some element of truth in that; as I said, we all have a mixture of motives behind what we do. Some of our motives are noble like that, but also in that mix for journalists is a desire to be first with the story, or get the exclusive.
For example, in my work we have had examples of representatives from two competing network morning shows interested in the same story. When one found out that the competitor had interviewed the subject earlier that day, the reporter put away the camera, packed up the lights, and went back without the story.
Did the story suddenly become something that was no longer important information for the public? Obviously not. Looking for the competitive leg up meant the second network didn’t want to cover the same story as the first.
That’s all fine. They have businesses to run, and a big part of their calculation is what they think will increase ratings. And, in Mr. Levy’s case, if he’s not thinking about writing columns that will attract and engage readers, you can bet his editors are.
Which is why I get a little impatient with journalists who act like everyone in business has ulterior motives, while they as journalists are above it all…just “acting…out of a sense of duty to inform the population.”
“Duty to inform”…is that why Barbara Walters got the post-jail exclusive with Paris Hilton?
So…the phone interview isn’t dead, nor should it be. But when Mr. Levy writes his column, or Mr. Vogelstein his article, they get to take time to say things in exactly the way they want.
Like I am right now. The Republic is not imperiled by some interview subjects like Calcanis and Winer asking for the same consideration. The journalists are free to refuse the request, and then the subjects can decide whether they want to participate or not.
We do lots of media interviews. We’ve done many by email, often suggested by the journalist for his or her convenience. I don’t think the stories were “impoverished.”
If anything, Vogelstein’s story (if he still writes it) will be more impoverished by not including Calcanis and Winer at all than it would have been by at least getting their considered remarks for consideration. He could have done the email or blog interviews and then decided not to use any of the statements, if he didn’t find them useful or genuine.
The call for all interviews to be conducted via email is short-sighted, if not naive, from a PR perspective.
No one is saying all interviews should be conducted by email. That’s a red herring. Ironically, Wired is exploring crowdsourcing, collaborative journalism. Online interviews with Calcanis and Winer would have been in keeping with that.