I've annoyed a journalist

by David Spark on June 27, 2008

I think I rubbed someone the wrong way tonight. And I didn’t know how much I did until I read his blog post.

The two of us and about fifty others were at a blogger event at the Hilton in San Francisco. It was a big schmoozefest. Many of us knew each other. Andrew Sernovitz, author of “Word of Mouth Marketing” was giving away copies of his book and bottles of Makers Mark. I scored myself a book.

After the big giveaway I pulled out my Nokia N82 and shot some video, streaming live over the Qik network. You can watch the recorded 14 minute video below.

In the video are Marissa Root, Eric Doyle, and Denise Vardakas of The Conversation Group, Sam Levin of Cool Mac Pics, Brian Zisk of the SanFran MusicTech Summit, Oliver Marks, Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells of the Social Media Club, Deb Schultz, Matt Weeks, Dale Larson, Veek, Christel van der Boom of A&R Edelman, Meliza Solan of Vator.tv, and a well know journalist…sort of.

At about 2:30 in the video I walk up to the journalist with my camera up and he immediately puts his hand over his face. He obviously doesn’t want me to shoot him. He got very pissed with me and I kept asking him why he was so annoyed. I asked why he didn’t want to be recorded now? I had interviewed him on video a couple of times before. He said he had flipped a coin and decided he didn’t want to be shot. According to his blog post though I was far more irritating and intrusive.

At a public event where recording people is common should you ask every single person when you’re streaming video? Or if someone just puts up their hand should you move on? Regularly if I didn’t know the person I would move on. But I know this journalist, I’ve interviewed him on video before, and we said hello at the beginning of the event. So I implored as to why he didn’t want to be interviewed. And it obviously irritated him so much that he had to write a post about it.

UPDATE: 6/29/08, The video has been removed.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Biggar June 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

His post sounds like rationalizing to me. There is no privacy angle at a public casual event, and you weren’t recording surreptiously and did ask permission — and turned the camera around promptly when he refused.

My analysis: bad mood combined with a power/dominance move, modeled on Steve Jobs telling Violet Blue to shove off.

Memo to him: he ain’t Steve Jobs, and that wasn’t MacWorld. Lighten up, Francis.

mike mcallen June 27, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Spark –
You could never just keep it in your pants at any kind of social gathering.

I do think he has the right to say no. If he feels strongly about this, he shouldn’t hang out at these types of events which all seem to be about sharing everything.

Maybe he should look into a veil or large hat for parties.


Christel van der Boom June 27, 2008 at 8:01 pm

Hi David,

I see both sides. I agree that this was a public place where there can’t be an expectation of privacy. You could even ask yourself if Tom is a public figure, which would give him virtually no legal right to privacy in the US. But when is someone a public figure? When does a blogger cross that line, on the day she or he starts blogging and puts him or herself out in public? Or after reaching a certain number of readers? I find that a fascinating question… it’s one of the ways social media is having an impact on our every day lives.

I think the journalist was not so much refering to the legality of it all. With his years of experience as a journalist, he’s probably seen that certain rules or etiquette makes sense in the long run for anyone who covers news.

Bloggers have completely broken down these rules and that’s probably why some of them are more successful than traditional media. Yet, as someone who works in PR (I’m with Edelman), I also see that the larger blogs start to look and act like traditional media more and more… I think that’s partly because they’ve seen that they can get certain information better if they play by the rules. For instance, two years ago we did not dare ask a blogger to hold an embargo, now it’s not uncommon.

Then again, there are millions of blogs out there and I don’t see that number go down any time soon. Among them, there are plenty of bloggers with different motives than traditional media, hence no rules or different rules.

I guess we’ll have to get used to the fact that we’re all public figures…

The Journalist in question June 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm

David, I’m really surprised that you don’t get it. I asked you not to film me and you continued asking me on camera why I didn’t want to be filmed and then creating a post out of it! That is just plain rude and disrespectful. I don’t have any legal rights and I’m not trying to claim any. I asked you as a friend and you refused. For what reason?!! What did you gain out of that? I can cross you off my friends list thank you for letting me find that out sooner than later!
Good luck out there because I’m sure others will find your behaviour just as annoying.

David Spark June 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I’m sorry such a small little incident like this blew out of proportion. And I’m sorry you think I’m rude and I’m no longer your friend. I have no ill will against you. I’m open to the conversation and I truly think it’s a debate. I don’t believe it’s as one sided as you see it.

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