New Medium, New Rules?

\"meaningless colorful graphic\"Over the past few months, when I’ve written posts on various issues, I’ve had several people respond to me with variations of “Why didn’t you just call and talk to me instead of blogging about it on Locally Grown?” My first, knee-jerk reaction to the question was that these people “don’t get it”, but I realize that’s unfair. I know and respect these people In Real Life, and they’re asking a legitimate question.

Perhaps some cross-[sub]cultural communication is in order. Those of us who’ve had long-term involvement with online dialog and virtual communities have had time to absorb the social conventions of that milieu. This isn’t necessarily the case with people who are relatively new to this world, or who don’t use the medium extensively. Added to this mild culture clash is the fact that our online community parallels our geographical one, which adds another layer of complexity; it makes it more difficult to determine which social conventions apply, and how that might play out online here at Locally Grown.

If I have a beef with a particular individual in Northfield, I’m not likely to publish a blog post without having at least a telephone conversation with the person first. But many of the issues I’m raising for discussion, or things I’m critiquing, are procedural or institutional in nature, and it’s not clear where the problem resides or with whom to effectively address it. I thought of this while reading Griff’s post about the Chamber when he wrote about why he hasn’t joined. If Griff wanted seek a specific change in the Chamber, who does he call? The new board president? Last year’s president? The executive director? What about “legacy” policies that have been adopted and implemented by people over a period of years or decades, who may no longer be involved? That’s just one example.

So what are the rules exactly? Is it a given that if Griff or Ross or I “speak” publicly without first speaking privately with those concerned with a particular topic, we’re out of bounds? Will my children’s teachers take it out on my kids because their mother is a bitch? Will I be blackballed by Miss Manners?

I’d like to gain additional perspectives from others in the LoGro community. What do you think?


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Randy, I expect that the RepJ reporter will adhere to traditional “prior to publishing” journalistic practices for the stories they publish here. They’ll likely be opinionated pieces, like one sees in Slate or MinnPost but still backed by facts, not just speculation.

    But I’ll continue to speculate on occasion, tho not recklessly.

    I get a steady stream of news, tidbits, rumors from people every week that I decline to put on LG because of ‘journalistic ethical standards.’  When I do speculate, it’s with a consideration on what’s helpful, what’s potentially damaging, what’s responsible, what’s going to further understanding.

    I know you and I don’t agree on my handling of the heroin story but that was a case in which I did phone an important source (the police chief) before blogging it. No, I didn’t verify his facts, but that’s where I think the line is between the blogging we do here (“Police chief and drug researcher say we have a heroin problem and I agree”) and what a good journalist would do (“Heroin in Northfield: what are the facts?”).  I think both types of writing are valid.

    April 15, 2008
  2. Holly Cairns said:

    Anne said:

    This is a group of writers sharing comments with 5,000 observers, and the entire world.

    Well, duh. 🙂

    April 15, 2008
  3. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: Randy (post #46) made my point more eloquently than I.

    April 15, 2008

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