Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Historic "bloggers" and their training

I have many colleagues who feel that bloggers -- or Flickr freelance photographers -- are not "real" journalists with proper training. A question from a professor sent me on a quest to examine the training of journalists from history. Their stories make good fuel for discussion.

Information from Wikipedia, so remember to add a grain of salt. Can you think of others?

Ben Franklin: Candle maker's youngest son, 15th of 17. Attended primary school for two years, continued his education through voracious reading. Became apprentice to his brother, a printer, at age 12. Brother denied him the chance to write when he was 15, so Ben created a pseudonym disguised as a middle-aged widow and began writing letters to the editor. (Anonymous blogger). The letters were published and became the buzz in town. (He built an audience). When his brother discovered the ruse, Ben left his apprenticeship without permission and became a fugitive. (Not part of the establishment). He had to leave town and start all over in Philly. There, at age 21, he created a Meetup/philosophy group called Junto, which spawned many other similar groups in town. (Flickr and Meetup networking).
Surely would have had a blog.

Mark Twain: Started training as a printer's apprentice when he was 11. At 16, began work as a typesetter for his brother's paper (these guys back then would have to know how to spell). From age 18-22, worked as a typesetter in a variety of cities -- these jobs until the 1980s or so were often itinerant, traveling types of jobs. The people moved from town to town as they heard about better work and cheaper beer or mojitos. Traveled extensively. Had family money to do so.
Surely would have had a travel blog, with much opinion.

Ernest Hemingway: Six months at The Kansas City Star, after high school. Joined ambulance corps when he couldn't join military. Traveled.
Might have blogged, using microcontent, between fishing trips and mojitos.

Margaret Bourke-White: Plainfield High School in N.J. Father was a naturalist, engineer and inventor. Mom a homemaker. Studied herpetology at Columbia, where she developed an interest in photography. Married, divorced a year later. Attended several colleges -- Michigan, Purdue, Western Reserve (now Case Western?), Cornell, where she graduated and became an industrial photographer at Otis Steel. Two years later, became associate editor of Fortune, at age 25. One year later, became the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union. Hired by Henry Luce as the first female photographer for "Life" magazine.
Probably would have had a "visual" blog or website, elegantly designed, if "Life" would let her.


Anonymous said...

Define for us "proper training".

Then we'll laugh.

Andria said...

"Proper training:" Giving people time and a coach to learn proprietary tools only used in a newspaper. Certainly we need to do much better.

More "proper training," completely personal view: Expecting people at all company levels to learn on their own the ubiquitous, free tools for much online work, necessary for many jobs these days. Analogous to Ben Franklin's "voracious reading." With still-existing tuition reimbursement and tax credits for lifelong learning. Lifelong learning isn't just an elementary-school slogan.
See "The Incomplete Manifesto" under general links.
See Core 77's essay on dealing with change, and substitute the word "journalism" for "design."