10 lessons on #journalism from Twitter

Peter Griffin
Updated: Feb 9, 2014 07:17:49 AM UTC

I handle the 'Life' section of Forbes India. In previous lives, I was an advertising creative director, voice-over artist, RJ, TV host, web producer and content architect, freelance travel writer, columnist, and consultant to NGOs. I've been blogging since 2003, and co-founded the South-East Asia Tsunami & Earthquake and Mumbai Help blogs (which, with other similar initiatives later became the WorldWideHelp group), and the writers’ community, Caferati. I'm a keen student of collaboration and online culture. I also co-curated the Literature section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 2006 to 2012. Aside from Twitter (link below), you could also follow me on Facebook or Google+.

Being a late convert from advertising, I'm probably the least experienced journalist in the Forbes India team aside from our interns. So I'm always grateful for the lessons the world can teach me. Like last week's brouhaha about our Flipkart cover story.

• It is possible to pronounce judgement on an article based purely on a headline and/or tweets about it.

• A critical cover story must be a marketing gimmick by the subject of the article in collusion with its “critics,” because, after all, as Mr Barnum said, bad publicity is still publicity.

• If you work for a large media group that also owns non-media properties, any article that is critical of competitors of your group companies is biased, track record be damned.

• Great customer service = great company, and any attempt to say anything critical about other aspects of the company can be negated by vociferously mentioning this great customer service, even if one of the premises of an article is that that great customer service is one of the things that is weakening said company.

• A business publication is not entitled to question the business models of its subjects.

• The media must not criticise darlings, period. They can only offer advice on how said darlings must get better.

• An article that defies the previous stricture and criticises a darling must be rooted in (a) spite (b) envy (c) irresponsibility (d) sensationalism (e) all of the above.

• (This needs a place of its own.) If the media criticises an Indian start-up, the media are being anti-national.

• It is terribly unethical to seek to sell more copies of your media product.

That's nine. In the best traditions of social media, I'm crowd-sourcing the tenth. Leave your nominations in the comments. Or on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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