Monday, July 18, 2005

The Sound on the Page

Almost all discussions about blogs in the context of professional communications make reference to the contrast between their open, transparent, personal tone compared to the supposedly more tight-arsed personality of the average corporate press release. The implication is that firms need to adapt, to become more loose-arsed, if they want to thrive in the new environment.

There's some truth in this, but a post by Scott Esposito last week reminded me that the inexpressive nature of corporate PR has been a reflection of what Ben Yagoda has called the 'middle-style' of traditional journalism, where words are assembled efficiently into a conduit for facts. It also prompted me to recall that one of the principal reasons I steered clear of a career in journalism was the fear of being trained out of the writing style I felt most comfortable with.

While many bloggers clearly aspire to be citizen journalists, the medium they operate in certainly encourages a more essay-like style, where the language and nuanced emotion are more often regarded as more important than a strict adherence to the facts.

Bloggers take much greater care about HOW they say things than reporters. So while the press release is targeted at a generic style, an equivalent for the blogging world may have to be flexible enough to adopt any number of different stylised idioms - which essentially means that the new medium favours genuine verbal craftspeople over the semi-skilled technicians of factory-line PR.

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