I actually couldn’t imagine any circumstances when I could have written a better paragraph than this one from Charles Arthur:
“The fact is that, not to be rude, you don’t get journalism. It is not the same as deciding you know what someone thinks. The blogosphere thinks it knows stuff. It ‘knew’ there would be an iPhone API. It ‘knew’ Apple wouldn’t use Intel chips. (Remember?) The Wall Street Journal didn’t turn to the blogosphere on the latter to find out the truth. And so it got the correct story first.”
The point about Intel chips is pretty close to my heart. For years, my friend Matthew Rothenberg was pilloried by the Mac blogosphere for his story on Marklar, the project – initiated in 2001 – to port Mac OS X to Intel. I knew Matthew was right and the blogosphere was wrong, because I know Matthew and what a fine journalist he is.
Yet the constant abuse Matthew took from Mac fans who knew categorically that Apple would never move to Intel was, in my opinion, disgusting and something which many of those blow-hards have never apologised for. Even smart Mac observers like John Gruber were adamant that Apple would not move, because there was no efficient PowerPC emulator for Intel. In fact, of course, there was just such an emulator being developed by a company in Manchester called Transitive. Some journalists were, even at this point, on to Transitive – I spoke to Think Secret’s Nick dePlume about trying to get a handle on what Transitive was doing back in 2003, but neither of us could nail down enough information to get a story out of it.
The fact was, Matthew was right and the naysayers were wrong – and the reason that he was right because, instead of assuming he knew what was happening and writing some kind of “educated opinion” column, Matthew did the research, made the calls, talked to the right sources and got the confirmation that he needed to run with his story. He didn’t “know” that Apple wouldn’t move to Intel – and that’s why he got the best scoop in Mac journalism in the past ten years.
And that, in short, is the difference between a blogger and a journalist. If you’re asking questions of people and writing on the basis of their answers, you’re a journalist. If you’re writing based on what you think you know, you’re a blogger.