Musical Chairs: How Bloggers, Mainstream Press, and Analysts Start to Look Alike

Earlier this week, I spoke to a group of AR and PR professionals, and one gentleman from an agency indicated of an interesting phenomenon that was happening among some press –they’re starting to act like analysts.

Mainstream Press acting like Analysts
Apparently, some press are demonstrating their subject matter expertise in some areas, and are interviewing analysts and vendors but publishing the findings as their own insight –at the coaxing of their management. The gent suggested that some press are evolving to be more like analysts, forming their own opinions with the story. This isn’t anything new, we’ve seen editorial columns do this for decades, take Mossberg, for example.

Analysts act like Mainstream Press
While some analysts would find this downright encroaching, I embrace this type of change, why? Well, many analysts are starting to act more like press, with the advent of blogs. Aside from myself, there are many other analysts that are using blogs to respond to industry news, in fact many analysts have been doing this for sometime. Some press pick up on this, and directly quote off the blog posts, saving a typical phone call. Take for example respected analyst Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research who regularly publishes his take about changes in the mobile and social world, in this recent blog post, he gives his take on the new iPhone software, there’s enough info for a reporter to glean quotes without a call.

Bloggers act like Analysts
On the flip side, blogger Louis Gray, and Marshall Kirkpatrick day in and day out flex their analytical chops over the social media space writing from their blogs. They dissect products, find out what makes them tick and publish their take (often with recommendations) that many follow.

Bloggers become Mainstream Press
I get a real chuckle out of “blogger” Robert Scoble (friend and former colleague) who wails about how Tech Blogging has failed us. To me, this is ironic, while he uses the consumer tools like blogs/video/twitter, he’s actually more akin to mainstream media. As the VP (management) at Fast Company (mainstream media), he has access to the technology leaders, CEOs, and has a total readership greater than many local newspapers. Of course, we know Robert had a humble start, but now, large media brands are either hiring bloggers, or encouraging their journalists and editorial staff to use these tools.

Mainstream Press become Bloggers
For effect, let’s examine Kara Swisher, whose roots stem from traditional technology reporting with the Wall Street Journal. Over the last year, she’s amplified her coverage on blogs and with her FLIP camera, covering events as she always has, but is primarily getting her take on things through her irreverent and entertaining blog. While more akin to an editorial coverage, she now leads the conversations on techmeme, interacts with bloggers, and in my mind, is more like an A-list blogger –not mainstream media.

Finding: Business models influence intent
It’s interesting to see how people get paid, for example, Mainstream press relies on subscriptions to newspapers/magazines, as well as advertising. Analysts have clients who they provide council and research for, and bloggers often monetize from ad networks and sponsorships. Analysts don’t need lots of eyeballs to monetize. Often, I’m pre-briefed before press or bloggers, yet I don’t break news. I do end up working a lot with the press, who are often on deadline to get the scoop or a unique take. Some bloggers often seek to break news (Techcrunch), yet some choose to hold back to then discuss it amongst themselves.

Conclusions
While the individual duties (and business models) highly differ between the Mainstream Press, Analysts, Bloggers, they are all starting to look alike as they adopt social media tools. In the end, if we took the mediums away, and just focused on the type of content that is being published, we’ll start to see the differences of the roles, it is interesting to see how all the viewpoints start to emerge into the online dialog.

This is an expanded riff, based off my previous post of how bloggers and mainstream media look the same, this post is now inclusive of analysts. I’m curious on your take, are you seeing coverage (esp in tech) start to merge into one gray ball of discussions? What place do you think I should play?