Friday, February 25, 2011

Ken Gray wants you to stop blogging

Beware of the Bulldog. He's a Serious JournalistKen Gray is a Serious Journalist. Like other isms (think "sexism" and "racism"), "journalism" in the way Ken Gray practises it means he doesn't like it when other people keep journals.

In other words, Ken Gray doesn't want you to blog.

Of course, he can blog, but that's because he's a Serious Journalist. Gray's blog is called "the Bulldog", at (I post the link reluctantly, because I really don't like driving traffic to him). Living up to his name, a lot of what he says about blogging and social media is bull.

The latest round of his drivel about bloggers started with the post "Pity the poor blogger", in which he compares his Well-Visited Blog to the lesser citizen journalists who resort to Twitter because they are ashamed of how few people read their blog.

You can also follow Ken Gray on Twitter at @KenGray.

The self-appointed Minister of Truth followed up that post with "Blogging and the law: let the bloggers beware," in which he asserts that bloggers (and tweeters) shouldn't be trusted because they don't always get their facts right.

I'm not going to waste my time arguing with Ken Gray on the topic, but if you want to get into that discussion, I recommend this post by Twitterer Keenan Wellar and the comments to Ken's posts linked above. He's actually approved a couple of them that make decent points, and Ken graciously inserted his own comments into their comments instead of replying in a separate comment. It's like a Ministry of Truth certificate of inspection.

If you're really lucky, like me, Ken Gray will keep your comments all to himself. You see, Ken Gray upholds standards of Truth, and will only approve comments on his blog that are True, because as publisher he can be sued for libel. For example, one Truth is "Ken Gray is not a Hypocrite". I suspect it must be libelous to say otherwise, or to point out clear examples of hypocrisy by Ken Gray, as he will often not approve comments where you do so. I guess he's afraid that Ken Gray might sue the Citizen for defamation if the comments are allowed.

As a concrete example (which are definitely not allowed on the Bulldog blog when referring to Ken Gray being a hypocrite), the following comment must be libelous, because Ken Gray did not approve it when I posted the comment on his aforementioned post, "Bloggers and the Law: let the Bloggers Beware":
"I thought journalists were in favour of the widespread sharing of information; not restricting it to a select few approved by authorities. Of course, that assumes your oft-repeated definition of journalism applies to you.

And you even admit you yourself make factual errors once in a while (an understatement, I must say), yet you contradictorily seem to think that people should not blog unless their posts are entirely without errors. You also lump all bloggers together, insulting an entire community en masse, including people who mostly write about knitting and pets.

Don't worry; I don't expect you to approve this comment. I've saved up a collection of my comments that you have censored, and your latest set of posts about bloggers has rekindled my urge to post them all on my own blog, where Ken Gray, self-appointed Minister of Truth can't veto them."
Well, Mea culpa. A couple of years ago when he went on one of his tirades about the anonymous ZeroMeansZero blog, I naively told him about the Streisand effect, and pointed out that by talking about ZMZ he was broadening its viewership with free advertising.

And as the ZMZ example illustrates, this is by far not the first time the Bulldog has come out at full bark on bloggers, or boldly expounded his virtuousness while cowardly concealing his foibles. Ken Gray's style is to make sweeping generalizations about groups of people or things when he doesn't agree with one or two members of those groups, and "bloggers" is perhaps his favourite group to talk about in this way.

I've got lots more to say about how Ken Gray is a liar, a coward, and a hypocrite, but for now I'll just say that people should follow his advice to not pay attention to blogs, starting with his.

To keep up with my upcoming series Ken Gray exposées, follow the ones that are tagged KenGray.

- RG>


Keenan Wellar said...

I fully respect journalism as a craft and those who do it well.

But Ken Gray appears to have very little experience or understanding of social media, and I found his reaction to my dialogue with him surprisingly defensive.

In the end, he decided to announce he "didn't have time for debate" and signed himself out of the discussion.

I find this ironic, because his motivation for his anti-blogger rant is clearly strongly entrenched in his fears about the future of journalism and his own potential displacement by bloggers and other nefarious players (as he sees it).

But it is the very attitude of "I am a journalist, I don't have time for conversation and debate, but at the same time, I want to use social media tools to drive traffic to my site" that is going to put people like Mr. Gray out of business.

You can't have it both ways.

The desire to simply "push your journalism" through social media vehicles while avoiding its conversational purpose is what is driving people away. In the short-term there might be an audience that isn't driven away by this obvious lack of authenticity, but over the long term social media users will filter out pushers and get their information from people that demonstrate trust and respect through interaction, not from pronouncements on high. You can be a great writer and a great journalist without having to dismiss others as useless contributors.

I believe it is those who have journalism skills AND understand social media and respect its environment are those who will be successfull in the long run. To dismiss the value of other participants is to dismiss your future audience, because those born into social media are simply not going to relate to that attitude.

zoom said...

Wow. I used to read the Bulldog, but unsubscribed awhile back. I think it was because he was getting so pushy and transparent about trying to get his numbers up (on his blog, twitter and facebook). After reading the posts you referred to, I'd say he seems more defensive and dogmatic now.

I think Keenan's absolutely right in his comments - especially that Gray can't have it both ways.

Fortunately there are some good journalists out there who have respect for good bloggers.

Eric Darwin said...

Gosh, I was so intimidated by those Gray drops of ... wisdom, I changed the header on my blog to warn naive readers that I am an AMATEUR blogger, and UNLICENSED. I hope this enuf warning to keep away the libel lawyers and Ministry of Truthers.

RealGrouchy said...

So many sad stories; thanks for sharing, keep them coming.

Don't worry folks, the Bitten By Bulldog Support Group is here to give you a virtual hug!

- RG>

Keenan Wellar said...

Thanks zoom, I would actually have liked it very much if Gray would have been willing to share his perspective as a journalist but be open to the reality that like everyone else he's not an expert on social media. But he's not even willing to acknowledge that, which is too bad. I would expect any journalist to be primarily motivated by the desire for inquiry, but he seems to be deliberately walling himself off from learning from the very audience he's worried about losing. Definitely a #fail!

Graham Greene said...

Mr. Wellar, I admire your humour, your patience, and your intelligence, all of which were wasted on Ken Gray. Arrogant is too kind a word for the way you were treated. With every childish response he kept proving your point: he wants to weigh in on social networking but actually has no clue about the subject, and angry with those who do!

Jenn Jilks said...

I'm with Keenan. "I fully respect journalism as a craft and those who do it well."

Unfortunately, for a journalist (who 'blogs') being critical of bloggers is rather disingenuous.

It is like someone who uses a cell phone to post stories, critical of those who use an iPhone to communicate with others.

As a middle-aged woman, retiree, and blogger, I have many friends who blog and tweet. They share their stories, lives, ideas, the books they have published, achievements, and we're savvy enough to differentiate fact from fiction.

Blogging has done much for me. I've been interviewed several times by journalists looking for a story on healthcare, G8 in Muskoka, drunk drivers, as they felt that I had something to add, based on reading my blog. So there!

With the preponderance of journalists who are crafting stories (we can hardly read facts anymore!), we are learning to critically reflect on what we read, and discuss and debate on Facebook, too.

I think we should ban journalists from blogging! They need their editors...

Good post. Thanks for writing it up, and taking time to research and collect the information that we want to read! You blogger, you!

RealGrouchy said...

Jen - "You blogger, you!"

Ouch, that's a pretty strong epithet. You wouldn't want to be sued for libel, you know!

Thanks for the comments, folks. Keep 'em coming! I'm working on three more Ken Gray posts and trying to sort out which points (there are so many of them!) belong in which post.

Graham - Just to be clear, I'm not Keenan Wellar; I'm RealGrouchy. The effort would be lost on Ken Gray if the goal were to get Ken Gray to change his mind (insulting him at length isn't the best strategy for that); the goal is to provide a venue for people to see all the shenanigans that Ken Gray gets up to, despite the high standards he claims to uphold.

- RG>

Anonymous said...

Certainly Gray's 'agree with me or I have no time for you' attitude does not translate well into the blog world. It's become painfully clear he hates (refuses, actually) to debate with anyone who questions his theories or opinions. He'll just stop responding. Blogs are supposed to stimulate dialogue and discourse, but not the Bulldog.
The 'live blog' of last week was ridiculous, in that he would graciously thank people who agreed with his contradictory viewpoints, then ignore people who disagreed. I don't know why the Citizen lets him write that thing; he's a Westboro elitist, not a man of the people, and it comes through in his posts every day.

Dwight Williams said...

I should relabel my blogs accordingly, I suppose...?