Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Newsflash, Mainstream Media -- Blogs Can Backfire

I was browsing my RSS feeds earlier today when I saw a post about the new Wu-Tang Clan album on MTV News' "You R Here" blog. "Wu-Tang Album Sneak Peek," the headline of the post written by intern Steven Roberts announced on my reader. So I clicked, interested.

Roberts began with the following "just an intern" angle, which lent itself well to the subject at hand:

I’ve been interning at MTV News for about three weeks and I already loved it, but when senior producer/hip-hop brain trust member Rahman Dukes asked if I wanted go with him to a sneak peek at the Wu-Tang Clan’s new album, The 8 Diagrams, that was the clincher. I played it cool and told him “sure,” but secretly I was thinking “hell yeah!”

But reading onward, it becomes painfully clear that Roberts doesn't quite exercise enough writing chops, ending paragraphs with material like "For the next 20 minutes, we sat in amazement" before starting the next graf with a copycat "The production on the sampler was amazing," as well as littering his congratulatory copy (not a single criticism in the whole thing) with exclamation points and other throwaway adjectives.

What am I trying to say here? Well, I'm certainly not here to bust intern Roberts' chops. But reading this unedited text made me cringe. MTV News is supposed to be pretty good at giving the music news goods, aren't they? So what's this doing on their site? Blessed with a high-profile review and a great opportunity for an intern, Roberts managed to get his text on the site apparently without passing it through an editor's hands, or even a peer's, and I think it reflects less than positively on the part of MTV.

MTV, it seems, jumped into having its interns blog without really setting oversight -- and in turn, without seeing what the consequences could be.

On the surface, having your interns blog is a fabulous idea. It's a great way for a quick byline and it keeps the site up on daily events without bothering other editors with the task. It's the perfect place to get tangible results, especially for a Webified generation. I support it wholeheartedly.

However, one must be careful about how quickly things can be published online. That's right, "published." Even if it's a blog, it's on the same level as the standard news content that the site offers. My RSS reader doesn't discriminate.

Which means behind the scenes, MTV should be doing just that -- discriminating. Teach those interns that even blogs need to be held to a standard, and help them learn how to achieve that. Blog-style writing can be chatty and informal -- but it can't be poor. And I think that's one reason why for MTV -- and any other mainstream media outlet that jumped in too quickly -- blogs can backfire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a music writer myself, and I have never trusted MTV News for information or have even thought to do so since I was 6 or so.