Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A "thanks" and a "reply"

Having Brock Meeks comment on A J-school Year was a flattering experience, and I assume that's a collective feeling among all of the "bloggers."

I am a staunch believer in the "contact theory." True in almost every business and especially important in journalism is the ability to make contacts. If we continue to post engaging, intellectual pieces, I believe we will attract and maintain healthy relationships with professionals-- and therein lies our opportunity. Of course, I realize that ultimately your job is only as good you are, but if you are good and want to get out of Tim-buck-two, it's all about who you know. Maybe I'm wrong and being overly optimistic, but I've had some firsthand experience with this scenario and found it to be true. It's one of the cold, hard facts of life.

With that said, I felt compelled to e-mail Brock Meeks to establish a sort of contact, thank him for his insightful thoughts, and urge him to continue commenting. I found it particularly interesting in his reply that Brock is educated with only a high school diploma. Read on.

And, I quote:

" Hi Graeme,

Please, call me "Brock"... "Mr. Meeks" is still my Dad's name and I'm not ready to steal the title from him just yet.

I will be back to the blog; I'd like to take some time and poke around inside. I think it's a worthwhile exercise, particularly if people are going to be candid and can do so without fear of reprisal from faculty.

J-school sort of fascinates me on a number of different levels; I never attended j-school. In fact, all I have is a high school diploma.

Now there's grist for discussion, eh? I learned all my chops--both the shoe leather reporting and the high tech side of it--simply by doing and never looking back. I choose good mentors and hounded them until they took me under their wing.

Ah, but that's a long story and one best told over a bottle of JD.

Cheers -- Brock"

Until next time folks, so long!
Graeme

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brock Meeks chimes in...

Imagine my surprise today when I come back and find [cough] a private e-mail publicly posted! What in the world are they teaching you guys in j-school in “Internet reporting 101” anyway?

Supposed I’d thrown in a bunch of profanity when writing to you, figuring we were just a couple of guys kicking around some thoughts about the biz? Would I really be comfortable seeing those private words splashed across cyberspace for any trolling bot to gobble up and catalog until the end of time?

What if I’d made a snide remark about one of your professors? Or one of my colleagues? All the while thinking the message was “just between us.”

Graeme, had you called me (202-885-4191) instead and chatted with me on the phone, would have you taken notes and then quoted me here? I suspect not, at least those quotes would be paraphrased and not a verbatim mind dump.

Did you cross a line? You certainly didn’t get permission. Hell, do you even know if you’re supposed to get permission?

Am I making little beads of sweat break out on your upper lip? I hope so… but don’t sweat it too much. I’m not upset (remember, I’m the guy the New York Times once said used “savage profanity” when publishing my little outlaw Internet newservice, CyberWire Dispatch, Google it).

And I learned long ago never to write anything online, public or private, that I wouldn’t want made public at some point.

But the point is, I could be pissed off and rightly so. The rules for quoting e-mail are murky at best. Pulling quotes from public online forums is “fair game,” of course (after all, the poster put them in a public area) but it’s always preferable to get permission. Reputations travel fast these days. Cultivate a reputation as a journalist that clips from online comments without asking permission and you’re toast when it comes time to really speak with someone.

You owe me a drink. ;)

--Brock

(Oh… and for all the future editor types out there, yes, I've already filed my copy for the day.)

6:39 PM  
Blogger Graeme Moore said...

I have a scary confession: My knee-jerk reaction to Brock's comment is, I didn't think. And more importantly, he's right by inferring that I didn't know.

What are the rules of e-mail and quoting? The only reason I even posted Brock's letter was because I thought it paid a nice compliment to our blog. Had it been libelous towards anyone or anything, it would have never been posted. It contained advice I thought helpful to everyone.

Would this be considered, had I had a defamatory intent, to be a sort of surreptitious surveillance thus causing me possible legal woes?

Yes, I understand it morally wrong to publish someone's email, but is it illegal to do so?

Have I forgotten everything from my 1st Amendment Law class?

Brock, my apologies-- but thanks for a good learning experience.

-Graeme
P.S. Yes, you did have my "insides" rumbling a bit.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breaking News.... Brock Meeks gets himself censored. Developing story...

Good grief. Graeme, I never meant for you to delete my comments! As I said (clearly I thought) I never write anything online or in e-mail that don't expect to see made public. (Not that I'm always proud of everything that sees the light of day, but so be it, that's the hazards of living the life of an online journalist.)

So, crank the text back into the original message. And next time you'd like to quote from an e-mail, just ask!

1:22 PM  

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