Thursday, January 24, 2008

Getting Journalistic "Street Cred" Online

A few months ago, before our first web site was launched, my boss asked me what our journalistic standards would be. I didn't really know how to answer, to be honest. I figured online news was like print. Were the standards really so different?

Ok, I'm a little naïve - and a bit of a traditionalist to be sure. But after wandering the Internet for a few days afterward, I realized he was right to ask. Between bloggers, social networkers-turned-experts and folks who have become media darlings through their own business savvy, it does make you worry about journalistic standards.

Thank goodness for Linkedin, which has become my online Roladex of some of the best journalists I know in an industry that's struggling so badly that even top editors are worried. ("It's like kicking a dead horse," said one editor, whose name I won't use to protect her from her own company, where she fears losing her position.) During my conversations with colleagues, some even asked what it has been like for me to jump off the traditional print bandwagon and onto a web-only publication. They were curious, just in case they ever had to do the same.

Listening to them gave me the idea for some shameless arm-twisting, I must admit. If I wanted journalistic "street cred" if you will, who better to go to than the folks I know? And so, with many thanks to my former employer for teaching an editor how to "sell", I pounced on their interest. "Hey, wanna try it?" I asked.

And since the site's launch, the question of journalistic standards isn't a question any more. No matter where I've worked, I've always believed, those standards begin with the quality of the people who do the work. In the last few months, I've had the pleasure of working with extraordinary journalists who have a wide range of experiences. They include: a projects editor, a number of reporters-turned-authors and a former-investigative-reporter-now-media-law-expert.

And the list goes on and on.

I figure with that kind of experience behind us, we've got our the journalistic "street cred" covered.

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