Re: tech writers, journalists (was rabbit hole)

Subject: Re: tech writers, journalists (was rabbit hole)
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: Alex Silbajoris <alsilba -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 13:19:53 -0700

Alex Silbajoris wrote:

> A journalist is not quite the same animal as a tech writer, and a different
> set of rules and courtesies (and liabilities) applies. As a tech writer you
> can strike up a conversation with someone at a conference like this and
> you're just exchanging discussion among peers in the field. A journalist
> asking questions is on the job, or else expressly _not_ gathering
> information, just chatting. You can step into ethical conflicts if you seem
> to making small talk and your interloqutor's comments appear in the media
> later.

This is pretty much the conclusion I've come to. I know several
journalists who will quote anything that anybody says, but I
don't care to be one of them. Aside from the innate unfairness of
this practice, I'm specializing in a very small field (Linux).
The people I meet as a journalist are also people I could meet as
a tech-writer/product manager. In fact, one of the highlights of
the convention for me was meeting other journalists whom I'd met
in my other role. So, if I'm unscrupulous now, I'll regret it

> Your suggestion of following up later with private messages is a good one,
> but as a journalist you'll have a tough time resisting the fresh little
> tidbits your hear floating around sometimes. Face it, one of the fun things
> about the trade is the occasional nice quote that presents itself to you
> like a flower.

I noted some tidbits, but I plan to use them as lead-ins when I
do follow-up e-mails and lead-ins. for example: "At the Open
Source conference, you said, 'blah.' Would you expand on that?"

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | Tel: 604.421.7189

"Better a good run than a bad stand." -James Keelaghan

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