Nope, for the simple reason that you need a firm grasp of ethics and knowing how to handle people before you even attempt to interview them or write about them, Darcy Reeder. You also need a good sense of language so you know to use the appropriate register.
And of course it’s always a good idea to be familiar with libel and slander…
One quick look at blogs — or even at this platform — tells me this knowledge is still niche and yet has to pervade our collective consciousness, alas.
To some folks though, this comes instinctively. The well-read tend to write well, the curious and the compassionate tend to have the respect of human dignity at heart but they don’t always know how to go about it in print.
And the pen analogy is an excellent one to illustrate potential “conflicts of interest.”
In the same vein, there’s the ever thorny topic of coffee during interviews. I always ended up picking up the tab and expensing because I couldn’t let a source or an interview buy it for me.
In the trade press, we used to get masses of free stuff, from ride-on lawnmowers to, well, a brick with a press release around it once. This is because we did product reviews as part of our publications, all of which long-established magazines that were the “journal of record” in their respective industries. This meant we had to be very selective.
The brick did get our attention but not in the best of ways, as you can imagine. I don’t believe it was picked for review but we did have an office-wide giggle, passing it around and shaking our heads at how misguided marketing folks can sometimes be.
Journos never took anything home, even when we were handed items at trade shows. Instead, there was this office closet in which it all went, only to come out once a year and — if my memory serves me right — be auctioned off for charity or something.
That was in the UK and I have fond memories of this publishing house even though the work wasn’t news and current affairs; the people side was sometimes quite incredible and my colleagues were consummate pros.
B2B publishing can be quite satisfying if you like nerding out about weird stuff and meeting people who are passionate about things you never imagined being passionate about.
More than likely, I’ll do it again.