Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hacks vs. Flacks

Becoming a blogger has forced me into a brand new world of vernacular and day to day interaction with all different types of media.

"Hacks and flacks" is a dynamic that exists in media that I am increasingly involved with. Hacks, in the traditional sense, are news reporters producing work quickly on a regular basis. Woodward and Bernstein types.

In the increasingly online media world, it appears that bloggers have naturally found themselves included in this group, regardless of their lack of journalistic background.

When I was first deemed a 'hack' it was not in the complimentary sense and we'll just leave it at that. After that, I began to notice term more and more and that it was used by many writers/bloggers/journalists (mostly on Twitter) to self-identify themselves.

So I had to do some research to get to the bottom of this. Definitions of a hack, as it could be possibly be applied to my trade as a blogger are as follows, per Wiktionary:

• One who is professionally successful despite producing mediocre work.
• A talented writer-for-hire, paid to put others' thoughts into felicitous language.
• An untalented writer.
• A political agitator.

It could easily argued that definitions 2 and 4 do not apply since I'm most definitely not a 'writer-for-hire, paid to put others' thoughts into felicitous language'. I am a writer, already hired, putting my own thoughts into felicitous language for a tabloid.

Additionally, while I'm clearly an agitator, a political agitator is quite a stretch. I've gotten to the point where I've been self-identifying as as either a 'trouble-maker' or when I'm feel like engaging in some self-loathing, a 'gossip-mongering whore'.

When I hear 'political agitator', I think of anyone related to the Nixon White House or Karl Rove (who might as well have been part of the Nixon White House).

So that leaves us with: 'One who is professionally successful despite producing mediocre work' and 'an untalented writer'. Both of which are at the very least, arguable and at the very best, spot on. Hence, the case for my "hack" status is pretty solid.

The "flacks" I have dealt with have increasingly lukewarm to my "hack" status. Either that or they just don't like talking to me as it's pretty difficult to get anyone on the phone or to respond to my emails. The reasons for this aren't quite clear but I have my theories, which I won't get into here because, simply, I'm paranoid.

What's also interesting is that when I Googled 'Hacks & Flacks' or some derivative, most results indicate that a adversarial or competitive relationship exists between the two groups. This makes me realize that A) my experience is normal, and B) it's basically a game between two groups of people that have very different interests.

Flacks are very good at discussing and promoting good news for their company. They're not so excited about discussing bad or unflattering news for said company. Since good news doesn't really lend to very good gossip or tabloid material I naturally drift towards the 'bad news'. I guess should probably expect more stonewalling... Sphere: Related Content