Personal note: A job change for yours truly

As many people who have been reading this blog for awhile probably know, I work for the Globe and Mail, a daily newspaper based in Toronto, where I’ve been working since 1994 or so. I’ve written about the stock market, the rise of the Internet, moved out West to write about oil and gas, and then came back in 2000 to be the Globe’s first online columnist and its first blogger (before anyone — including me — really knew what that meant). For the past year and a half or so, I’ve been the newspaper’s “new media” reporter, writing about all the ways in which the Web and social media are changing the business of online content for newspapers, magazines, authors, musicians, actors, artists and just about everyone in between.

A little while ago, I was offered an opportunity at the Globe that I got pretty excited about: a position that we’re calling “Communities Editor.” What does that mean exactly? To tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure.

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Calacanis: the Tony Robbins of Web 2.0

Update:

Apparently, Jason doesn’t want his email newsletters posted any more because he “doesn’t want to give the haters a platform,” according to a Twitter message. The text of the email has removed from both Silicon Alley Insider and TechCrunch, but you can still find it.

Original post:

Jason Calacanis, the diminutive entrepreneur behind Weblogs Inc. and the “people-powered search engine” known as Mahalo, seems to be attempting to transform himself from just a scrappy CEO into a Web 2.0 cross between Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins. It’s actually been coming for some time, but really kicked into gear when Jason stopped blogging and started sending out an email newsletter to a select group of followers. Of course, his missives routinely show up on various blogs anyway, which is a nice way to have your cake and eat it too. Which is great, because it means that none of us is denied access to Jason’s words of wisdom.

In his latest missive, Jason gives each of us the benefit not only of his years of startup experience but also of his bachelor’s degree in psychology, both of which taught him a number of key lessons about how to succeed even when everything is going against you. I’ve read through his newsletter several times and extracted some of those key lessons:

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Scoble says he’s biased — does it matter?

It started with Robert Scoble of Podtech complaining that Engadget didn’t link to his Intel video (which I wrote about here, complete with comments from Scoble), but it has turned into a discussion about whether that video was compromised by the fact that Intel is a sponsor of Podtech. As Scoble clarified in the comments on my post — and in the comments on his post — Intel paid for one of the other videos on the site, but not for his. However, Intel is a prominent sponsor.

So is that a conflict of interest, or is it just the old “this is new media, we play by different rules” thing all over again? Is Scoble a reporter, or is he something else? And given the tangled conflicts over the Intel video, how should we look at Scoble when he flies around with John Edwards as part of his pre-election campaign?

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In his discussion with commenters — one of the main benefits of Robert’s blog, as far as I’m concerned — Scoble admits that the site could have disclosed its ties to Intel more prominently, and that he has effectively been “used” by CEOs in the same way Intel used him. Then he admits that he could be perceived by some as being biased in doing the Intel video because he is biased:

Did I say my work is unbiased? I think the whole point of what I’ve been doing here for six years is telling you I +am+ biased.

Would Intel invite me back if I just made it look bad? Probably not. But that’s not what I do. If I think something is really bad I just don’t go.

This is an important thing to remember. What Scoble is saying is that he doesn’t want to be seen as a journalist, in the sense of being unbiased or objective. The bottom line, I think, is that Scoble is someone who is enthusiastic about technology and about technology companies. And there’s nothing wrong with that — provided everyone knows what that means.

In another comment at Scoble’s blog, Matt Kelly of Podtech News says that he was invited to the Auto Show by General Motors, who paid for his flights and his hotels and meals. It’s obvious that he sees nothing wrong with that — which I would argue is part of the problem. Car magazines might do that, but that’s why they aren’t considered “real” journalism.