So here’s the rule of thumb for entrepreneurship and business reporters out there: Don’t be the person you want to interview and write about. In other words, don’t be an entrepreneur or business person. This piece of advice sounds a little bit counter-intuitive as I thought it’d be much easier to understand the subject matters by being in their shoes, seeing things the way these people do so I can write better about them and their companies.
It turns out I’m wrong…
Reporters need to stay away from being an entrepreneur themselves. They can’t be a top-notch reporter and a great entrepreneur at the very same time. They have to relinquish one of the two.
That’s probably the gist of Sarah Lacy’s statements. The founder of media company Pando.com was asked whether being an entrepreneur herself changed her way of writing as a tech reporter. As we all know, Lacy has worked for almost 15 years writing about the tech industry, the people and the whole dynamics in it. She answered it bluntly,”I’m a way worse reporter now…”
Asking hard questions to other entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur cum reporter is relatively easy, claimed Lacy. Yet, she stated that what bothered her to do her best job she always wanted is the OVEREMPATHY on the answers. “So particularly when it comes to things I’ve gone through…like having the ousted board member (she might be reminded of Mike Arrington ousted from TechCrunch or?) or even like a cash crunch or hiring a sales guy that didn’t work out[…]”
She further said she didn’t write as much as she used to and she felt for these pitiful entrepreneurs. “Because I see every side to it and I feel for them,”explained the mother of two.
Thank God, I’m not an entrepreneur because if I have to be one, I would certainly lose my best job ever. And I would never trade being a writer to any job on earth. This is very much the best. At least for now.
The Press Hotel is like no other hotels on earth. Probably designed for overly dedicated journalists who don’t mind at all spending their life days and nights, being chained at their working desk, the hotel is located in Portland, the US. It was not a brand new building though. Previously the hotel was a number of offices of Portland Press Herald but in 2010 was left unoccupied as the journos moved to another office building.
There are so many lifestyle facilities guests can enjoy right here. The Press Hotel has its integrated art gallery full of past remnants like archaic typewriters. It is not going to excite overworked journalists who in dire need of total break from their highly demanding jobs.
If you want to get drunk, go drink some booze at “The Inkwell”. It is a bar with newsy taste in every inch of it. You’ll find artworks that look like things you’re likely to find at a typical newsroom back then.
Freeing your reporters to do really good works is DOABLE. Making them write 1-2 stories (with the best quality of journalism they can possibly provide readers) is one of the tricks. Don’t require them write 6-10 stories or even 10-15 stories a day (assume they work 8 hours a day, as they have their personal lives as well). It is not I who says so but Sarah Lacy, the founder of tech blog Pando.com.
I’m not stunned. She made a point. Quality, not quantity, is what she and her team are after so it does make sense for them to do so. A reporter cannot produce a piece of high quality journalistic content within less than an hour. That’s fucking crazy. Except the reporters only need to rewrite or repurpose or ‘repackage’ or summarize various articles from several sources scattered randomly on the web. It’s fun. They only sit at the office and never get out.
She further claimed that even a junior reporter aged 19 (I guess it is Nathaniel Mott she was talking about) was able to write a complex article which was she thought interesting and showed high quality in tech journalism that Lacy complained about to be flooded with press releases rewriting and copy pasting to be the fastest news breaker recorded on TechMeme Leaderboard.
She takes journalism really seriously, and that’s ridiculously awesome. At least to me. I don’t know it is to you.
”The first job of a writer is to be HONEST.”- Irvine Welsh
I typed the word “honest” in capital letters as I cannot tell you how much I find this quote inspiring to me. This quote at its best teaches us writers in general (whether they be bloggers, published authors, print journalists, online journalists, novelists, short story writers, or even mere Facebook updates’ creators) that nothing can substitute integrity and honesty.
But for some reason I cannot fathom why some writers plunge themselves into this kind of abyss named politics a little bit too far. Take Indonesian moslem writer Jonru Ginting as an example. The self-proclaimed writer, entrepreneur, and internet marketer (as he himself stated on jonru.net). He is allegedly to be the culprit behind the photo showing Jokowi as a priest at a church giving sermons according to islamtoleran.com (another site with unknown track records). The photo was found to be photoshopped and thus fake. Jonru (@jonru) himself denied the accusation via Twitter and Facebook. But long before that, when Egypt crisis broke last year, he was reportedly releasing a hoax to change the perception of those who did not believe in the sincerety of Ikhwanul Muslimin movement (source: badaruzz on http://www.kaskus.co.id, 14/07/2014). He was said to have used a photo of a smiling corpse, with the intention of convincing readers that Ikhwanul Muslimin casualties were died heroes. But the photo was found to be sourced from the web. The photo was allegedly taken from Malaysia, where the woman was only mimicking and acting as a corpse during a simulation of taking care of dead body before the burial based on Islamic regulations.
I am not going too comprehensive about who is wrong or right in this politically sensitive case but it may also be due to the implications of his involvement as a cadre of Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (PKS) , who openly criticizes and frequently attacks Jokowi on his Twitter account and Facebook fanpage (https://www.facebook.com/jonru.page).
And that being said, I am not either about to judge him for being a politically biased writer because that is his own preference entirely. Yet, what I want to highlight is how perilous it may get when you involved in affairs such as politics as you may lose your integrity and neutrality as a writer. Because as far as I can see, those two things are the most invaluable and intangible assets for writers of all kinds. You can tell lies in fictional works as much as you want but never ever spread lies in your reports, non-fictional works since it may put your credibility at stake.
Because I believe there is NO fine line between liers and truth tellers in writing. Either you tell a complete lie that still makes sense of course in some way (i.e. fictional authors) or tell the “truth” as far as you possibly can do (i.e. reporters). Certainly, subjectivity may intrude in between but can subjectivity or bias leads a writer to lies or even worse libels, or defamation? Have your say.
“A journalist is a person without any ideas but with an ability to express them; a writer whose skill is improved by a deadline: the more time he has, the worse he writes.”-Karl Kraus
I’m actually a journalist, too. I sometimes interview people, take their pictures with or without their knowledge and write some news on events I attend. But it is mostly about public relational type of press. I don’t do investigative journalism. I wish I could though. The sensation of providing information any other journalists cannot provide is beyond words. When you break earth-shattering news first before it goes viral, people see you that you are a journo with sharp instinct and will respect you more, at least that’s what I see.
Kraus may be true when he says we journos have better verbal aptitude but lack ideas. That could hold true for newbies like me, when we just start our carrier in the first 5 years. Yet as we see more people and talk to more inspiring figures; interact harmoniously and clash against their ideas more often, novice journos accumulate knowledge that in the end will benefit them to form outstanding ideas. I saw and knew some journos who initially only wrote about entrepreneurship and couldn’t help being a part-time entrepreneur in the course of the carrier to finally become a full-time one as they retire, resign or get dumped by their ungrateful previous employer.
Though I don’t work based on the rigid deadline system, I know how it feels to be writing every single day frantically to have 10 pieces uploaded at the end of the day. So I am ambivalent when asked about the significance of deadline at work. When is it the right time to stick with the deadline? And when is it the appropriate circumstance to linger and get rid of the worry of being too late when submitting work before deadline?