Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bloggers and Journalists

I've never wanted to be a journalist, so it's perhaps hardly surprising that I've never stepped into a newsroom - at least not until Wednesday, when, along with over a dozen other Manchester bloggers I was invited by Sarah Hartley to the new Manchester Evening News offices. Its a fascinating sign of the times to be ushered into the heart of Manchester's "old media", albeit a rather state-of-the-art heart. After all, isn't this the year that the blogging community and the cult of the amateur has been most derided? A friend used to work for London's News Network, and ten years ago I went into their offices a number of times - what struck me here was that print media is still a people-business, rows and rows of them, (though not that many there at 6.00 on a Wednesday), designers, writers, reporters, subs, editors. For every page of a paper still needs to be sourced, written, designed, published, and this is in every way a 24-hour news operation, with that almost-a-video-blog Channel M, and Manchester Online broadcast from the same offices. And like every journalist I've ever spoken to, they're not too proud where they get the story from - readers comments and blogs being part of their feedback loop.

And most of Wednesday's bloggers were anything but amateur - as anyone who has kept up with Manchester Blog Awards over the last couple of years would be sure of. It felt like a rare opportunity for two conflicting worlds to get to understand each other a little more. With City Life, so summarily dismissed by Guardian Media Group a few years back, about to be relaunched as a flagship online brand its clear that the media landscape has changed to the extent that anyone interested in the city's more edgy side will be bookmarking blogs, rather than checking out a clunky corporate, and City Life's need to negotiate the two will be fascinating to see.


Work - as well as technical incompetency (I know, I know) - might prevent me from listening to Elizabeth Baines short story being read on Radio 4 later today, and may well prevent me from attending a very exciting sounding "other room" the week after next, but I will try. I'm certainly in Cambridge the following day when the next of Martin Amis's public lectures, about old family friend Philip Larkin, takes place.

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