Steve Buttry on what the reaction to Gene Weingarten’s column tells us about the Washington Post’s brand

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 26 June 2011

I don’t very often post to this blog just to write “Yeah! What he said”. But this is basically just that.

I read Gene Weingarten’s column on personal branding for journalists the other day. Like lots of people involved in the digital side of our business, I disagreed with a lot of what he said.

Not least of which because, whether you call it “branding” or “reputation” or “trust”, you earn it through good work. In fact, I’d argue that it is impossible to build it without doing good work, in the same way that you can’t build a decent brand reputation as a company without making decent products. Perhaps even more so for journalists in an era of intense digital scrutiny, when fact-checking, cross-linking and rebuttals can be done at lightning speed, by a greater proportion of the audience than ever before.

Anyway, Steve Buttry responded to the post, and has curated some reaction to Gene’s column on Storify. I think in a couple of paragraphs embedded within the Storify, he absolutely nails it. I hope he won’t mind me quoting it at length:

“While I appreciated Gene’s engagement on my blog and directly with me, I was fascinated with this: You can find no indication of this discussion at all on the Washington Post’s site. The [original] column has way more Facebook likes and retweets than I’ll ever get for anything I write. And it has 23 comments, mostly curmudgeons cheering Gene on for his skewering of the whole notion of branding.

But as for the substantive responses to Gene’s column, not an inkling. Never mind my response or all the Twitter buzz: Leslie and her professor have both identified themselves publicly. But they aren’t linked or mentioned anywhere. If it didn’t happen on the Post’s site, it might as well not have happened.

I guess that says something about the Post’s brand: Old Media.”

1 Comment

Well, I've just added this to the curation, of course. Thanks, Martin!

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