SEO Guru Reveals His Inner Self

May 18, 2009

I found the article “Dammit, I’m A Journalist, Not A Blogger: Time For Online Journalists To Unite?” here quite interesting. The reason? It makes clear that “real journalists” want more respect than a “real blogger” gets. The schism will ignite a firestorm of Tweet and probably lead to the formation of a not-for-profit organization, a certification program similar to that required of medical doctors and air craft pilots, a Web site, and maybe a movie deal.

The author of the “Dammit” essay is Dan Sullivan, who is the oft-quoted expert in search. The distinction between search as in marketing and search as in the enterprise is not usually made. I have seen Mr. Sullivan’ statements about Google, online marketing, and other aspects of the online world, I associate him with search engine marketing, conferences chock full of ad executives and stressed Web site managers, and newsletters that explain the intricacies of getting a Web page to be trim and fit for indexing.


You real digital journalists, fall in, hustle, hustle, hustle.

The “Dammit” essay turns on a different color spot light. Mr. Sullivan wrote:

Bloggers got bumpkiss. We have no lobbying group. We have no organization designed to help members learn the intricacies of uncovering government documents. We can’t get government agencies to call us back at all, at times (I know, been there and done that). And we’ve got a newspaper industry increasingly portraying us as part of an evil axis that’s killing them. Blogs steal their attention, and Google steals their visitors.

But the gravel in the craw is that existing associations are not doing what needs to be done to preserve the reputation, professionalism, and statute of digital journalists. He asserted:

I want online journalists to get organized. Yes, there’s the Online News Association, but that seems an extension of “traditional” journalists working in mainstream organizations with digital outlets. I think we need an “Online Journalists Association,” or a “United Bloggers” or whatever catchy name you come up with.

The author of “Dammit” then shifted into what struck me as “plea bargaining mode”. He wrote:

But while I love newspapers, came from them and hope they continue to find a place (more on their future later, short story, expect 4-5 “nationals” to survive), I’m begging them to stop seeing bloggers as enemies. Many bloggers are journalists, part of the news ecosystem, colleagues that are entitled to respect.

Yes, I shouted. Yes, bloggers deserve respect.


Respect, digital journalists deserve respect.

Well, some bloggers. There are the bloggers who write about their cats, personal tastes in breakfast food, long form bloggers, and the newer microbloggers. My thought is that bloggers have to be separated into the ones who are “digital journalists using the Web log form” and the run-of-the-mill millions who start a blog, quit, or rant and foam in a manner that often surprises me.

Then there are the many unemployed journalists who use Web logs for marketing. Some of the former giants of publishing (sorry, I won’t mention any names) use the Web log as a way to keep their oar in the water and participate in the community of those who used to write for money.

As in any human endeavor, there will be a pecking order, and the “Dammit” author strikes me as writing for those at the top of the pyramid.

Now my Web log is not journalism. It’s a marketing effort, and it has been reasonably successful. So far, the people who pay me to write find it easy to differentiate what I do in my columns in three dead tree publications and my books for three publishers on two continents from the antics of the addled goose. Check out the Beyond Search logo.

When I read a Web log operate by an individual, a couple of people, or a newish company, I keep my wits about me. The stories may be little more than recycled news releases or the digital equipment of Paul Bunyan sharpening his axe. Blogger Paul wants to chop something down to size.

Let’s think about how one might go about sorting out the “digital journalists” from the “non journalistic bloggers”. My ideas:

  • A dictator steps forward and makes the decision using whatever criteria he or she wishes to use. Don’t like it. Too bad.
  • An association forms via some sort of Webby community type method. The group kicks the notions around via email and Twitter. Those who make the cut are “digital journalists”. The fraternity sorority rush approach will probably work pretty well.
  • An existing trade association creates a section to handle this task. Anyone who can pay the fee can join. Once the membership is accepted, the card holder is an official “digital journalist”.
  • “Real journalists” meet at a local drinking establishment and pronounce themselves “digital journalists” and keep on writing and looking for gigs.

I suppose a combinatorial approach will work as well. What’s clear is that the traditional way of defining oneself as a “real journalist” seem to be declining along with the economy.

I must admit the need to define myself as a “digital journalist” or a “blogger” has never been important to me. I write Beyond Search the Blog as a marketing effort. I write columns, articles, and books for money. I support myself writing reports and analyses for clients. No confusion in my mind, but I am an addled goose, not a journalist seeking respect.

Perhaps I am missing the “it” factor that makes the author of the “Dammit” article so forceful. A blog is whatever its owner or authors wishes it to be. I prefer to let users find content that interests them. If people read a Web log, that’s a vote for the blog. Slapping an SEO Seal of Approval or some other made up badge on the blog is a way to boost traffic. I prefer to let users decide without the tricks and the mock outrage.

What can be more painful than a blogger getting more traffic that a “real digital journalist”?

Stephen Arnold, May 18, 2009


5 Responses to “SEO Guru Reveals His Inner Self”

  1. SEO Guru Reveals His Inner Self : Beyond Search | Web Money Opportunity on May 18th, 2009 3:03 am

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  4. Josh on May 19th, 2009 12:06 pm

    I felt that in the article, it was more for having integrity for one’s published online content then it was to be identified as “Blogger” or a “Digital Journalist”…

    People in search of having some set standards for the writing professions might be put off by it, but I like the need to show the purpose of what makes the writer, not a title.

    Also, from reading the article, I get the feel that you’re somewhat against SEO or is it certain practices of it?

  5. seoadsense on May 19th, 2009 6:30 pm

    Great Articles – Checkout for lots of seo tips and tricks.

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