By Jason Wojciechowski on February 3, 2006 at 4:36 AM
I attended a little event at Cardozo today that I thought I'd share. Peter Lattman and Ashby Jones from the Wall Street Journal Online came to talk about blogging, online journalism, and the law. The attendance was pretty good for an evening session on a relatively niche topic, and some of the questions from the audience were pretty good.
Both men are former lawyers (Jones: Michigan; Lattman: Fordham) who moved into journalism after really disliking the law-firm life. A lot of what they cover at the Journal's Law blog (Lattman) and generally on the law page of the Journal's online presence (Ashby, who edits that section) is the law firm life and, in some sense, legal culture. They do, of course (because it is the Journal), a lot of business stuff, from two perspectives: the legal aspects of business as well as the business aspects of the law.
They both seemed like they really enjoyed their jobs and enjoyed working at what's in a lot of ways the front of a wave in journalism. It made me not feel so despairing of what might happen to me if I don't like the lawyer's life after law school.
Some of the issues that were interesting to me (What does being on the web mean for journalists in terms of pressure to get stories up before they can really verify them? What about the possibility of a completely opaque editing process, where we don't even have to know that you've made corrections?) were discussed, as well as the nature of blogs (which I think is overblown - a blog is not a blog because it's independent, or because of it's style of mixing opinion with reportage), the question of whether blogs are "just a diversion" (question coming from an old dude in the back, which clearly made Lattman and Jones really uncomfortable), and the more mundane points like, "Do you link to pay sites?"
One question I wanted to ask of Jones personally, but decided against eventually, was what effect he thought the move to online journalism might have on magazines and long-form journalism. People hate clicking "next page" online, after all - can you imagine if Gay Talese or Truman Capote had tried to write for an online audience? I shudder to think.
Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed considering how many people were probably blogging this when they got home.