Journalism Bloggers as Bands and Musicians

I love analogies. This is a fun post that has been brewing in my head for a long time. I’ve been incredibly lucky in my young career to have met and exchanged ideas with fascinating journo-bloggers. I try to learn a bit from all of them. This is a fun ode to that.

What band/musician would I be? Or, name drop other journo-bloggers and I’ll add them to the list and come up with more musical analogies (If I am not familiar with them you should suggest what band/musician they might be as well).

Amy Gahran: Janis Joplin

Nobody could wail like Joplin. I often refer to Amy as a “force of nature” and I imagine Joplin was the same. Amy doesn’t hold back punches. She is passionate and will let you know exactly what she thinks.

Suzanne Yada: Alanis Morissette

First: You should hear her play piano, but that is hardly an analogy – she really plays piano beautifully. More importantly – Suzanne will charm the pants off you unassumingly. And when you see her in action, wow. As a practical example – she is a social media boon to The Public Press.

Susan Mernit: Carol King

Susan has given me incredibly wise advice since I first met her in person. Carol King lifts people with her music and gives them a broader sense of the world and what they are doing in it.

Jeff Jarvis: Pete Townshend

Arguable one of the best guitar players ever, Townshend helped usher in the era of MTV. The Who helped pioneer the Rock Opera and it wasn’t really understood at the time. “Talking bout my generation” is still an all time classic.

The CoPress Gang: Green Day

Young, in your face, and too loud for your parents. But that is EXACTLY what I love about this gang. I’m lucky to be on the board of directors for the nonprofit at the moment, but in truth, I only joined so I can keep my eye on all these kids. In a few years I hope they will remember me and hire me. I’ve now met a few of them in person. They are all amazing. Of those I’ve met: Greg Linch = Death Cab for Cutie,  Daniel Bachhuber = Dave Grohl and Joey Baker = Sublime

Howard Weaver: James Taylor

Smooth soothing songwriting. I imagine Weaver was one hell-of-a-leader; not by force, but by example.

Howard Owens: Lynyrd Skynyrd

Epic. Epic. Epic. And despite the amazing guitar solo’ing ability – humble, down to earth and practical.

Ryan Sholin: Bob Marley

I had to pick some kind of hippie band. I don’t even think Sholin associates himself as a hippie, but I always picture him in Santa Cruz. Plus – Marley was a living legend. Nobody can ever touch what he did. Plus, Marley just makes you feel good. Whenever I see Ryan I start to crack a smile. This guy gives me warm fuzzies all over.

Scott Karp: U2

An intelligent band that crosses generations. U2 is also at the top of the charts again – after almost 30 years of being part of pop music. also released a WordPress widget, one of the more interesting media-related events this week (disclaimer – I’m on the board of advisors to

Mathew Ingram: Barenaked Ladies

A Canadian band that kicks ass. You’d be surprised – they have some serious work along with the quirky.. But even when they are producing humorous songs, they tend to be catchy and keep you coming back for more. I hear they are a great band to see live and Matt makes for good conversation.

Leonard Witt: Tom Petty

A living rock and roll legend, Tom Petty never fully embraced rock and roll over-indulgence. Instead, Petty is the rock and roll hall of famer that you can imagine also being your father.

George Kelly: Prince

Prince is relatively shy, but is perhaps one of the most talented musicians of the last three decades. The guy plays every single instrument. A testament to Prince’s brilliance: There is no bass track in “When Dove’s Cry.” I can’t think of another musician that could write a #1 hit without a bass track. Also – if you are ever lucky enough to hear George sing, he has a great voice.

Jay Rosen: Talking Heads

David Byrne and the Talking Heads were lightyears ahead of their time. Their music still captivates me. Byrne was also one of the first musicians to really embrace blogging.

Pat Thornton: The Clash

A punk band with pop appeal. Pat calls it like he sees it. He isn’t afraid of pointing out what is wrong, and despite criticisms isn’t a negative force in the journalism community, but gives it a good positive push in the right direction.

Steve Outing: Bela Fleck

A masterful musician. A bit jazy – Steve has been building a strong niche covering digital advertising and micro-patronage. If you ever have a banjo/jazz thirst, Bela is your boy. If you ever got a question about new online payment systems – check Steve’s blog.

Mindy McAdams: Dolly Parton

Okay – stop laughing. For those that don’t know – Dolly Parton is one of the best singer/songwriters of her genre and generation. Interestingly enough – her work has been a platform for tons of other songs (Ghetto Superstar comes to mind). Mindy is hands down one of the best folk to teach online digital storytelling and she has documented TONS. Much like Dolly, Mindy’s work is a platform that others can build from.

Brian Boyer: Beck

I often argue that Beck is the greatest singer songwriter of my generation. He is always unique. Every album shows his personal growth.

Will Sullivan: Devo

With a blog like Journerdism Will has embraced his inner Geek. No band can touch Devo in their ability to embrace the inner geek and turn that into a cult-like following of nerds.

Dan Gillmor: Bob Dylan

Dylan was a pioneer. He brought the electric guitar to folk. Gillmor brought blogging to journalism. Gillmor is the Ted Williams of journo-blogging in my mind.

Paul Bradshaw: David Bowie

One of the best to come from England Bowie has a style that is unique and commands respect. When you follow Bradshaw you can tell there is something brewing inside of him that he needs to get out. I suspect his new venture Help Me Investigate will be the equivalent of his Ziggy Stardust.

Adrian Holovaty: Django Reinhardt

Do I really need to explain this one?

Scott Rosenberg: Paul Simon

One of the greatest voices ever. Simon’s songs are introspective and enlightening giving us a glimpse into the American pysche.

Mark Glaser: R.E.M.

What started out as an esoteric college band turned into R.E.M. Their songs are beautifully crafted. Night Swimming is still one of my all time favorite mellow songs. Because R.E.M. is such a part of the music world they are often overlooked and taken for granted – as though they will always be around. They don’t just jam, they craft songs. Mark Glaser’s MediaShift is one of the most crafted blogs out there.

Marc Luckie: Pearl Jam

The occasional sensitive rock ballad Pearl Jam became famous for their intense riffs and grunge rock attitude. I grew up on this stuff and I think there is a generation of multi-media journalists growing up on Luckie’s 10,000 words.

Michele McLellan: Annie DiFranco

Having grown up with an older sister who shared a tape deck with me in our car – I learned to appreciate Anni DiFranco. She is one of the most skilled folk with a guitar. More importantly, her lyrics are mezmerizing. They give you pause and make you crack a smile at the same time.

Lisa Williams and the Placeblogger gang: Phish

They already had a cult like following when the time came for them to take the reigns from the Grateful Dead. I myself was a HUGE Phish fan in high school (yea, I was that guy). They jam out hard core but also write simple and beautiful ballads. Lisa Williams is probably the person I quote the most in talking about journalism. Phish, for a long time, was the band whose music I played the most – back when I used to play a lot of music (a future blog post may include old songs I recorded).

Who would these journo-bloggers be?

20 Replies to “Journalism Bloggers as Bands and Musicians”

  1. HAHAHAHAH! Oh this is awesome! I’m flattered! Though now you called me out on my piano-playing, may I in return call you out on your mad guitar & drum skillz?

    We have to start a band, I’m dead serious. And anyone else in the Bay Area reading this who plays music should also join — email me at suzanne AT suzanneyada DOT com.

    Now, as for your rock star doppelgänger, I would have pegged you as Beck if it didn’t go to Brian Boyer already. The reasons:
    1) You’re from L.A. (Obvious)
    2) You’re insanely creative.
    3) You are completely genuine despite the rising media attention.
    4) You’ve got your hand in a huge variety of genres — just even within the Spot.Us stories themselves!
    5) You push the envelope on what defines a song — or rather, what defines a journalism story.
    6) You know when to sing a ballad and when to totally rock out.

    I’ve been thinking about it and I honestly can’t think of a better fit for a musician. Sorry Brian!

  2. {{{Scrrrrreeeeeaaammmm!}}}}

    Get it while ya can, man!

    Where’s that bottle?…..

    Hey, someone’s gotta sing the blues in this biz….

  3. This is awesome. I love that CoPress is Green Day.

    I told Dave not to change it, but I guess I always saw myself as Rivers Cuomo/Weezer (my favorite modern band).

  4. This is too funny and a well thought out list! I like it especially because most of my heroes aren’t journalists but creative types like Freddie Mercury and Keith Haring.

  5. That is awesome Dave — I am honoured to be compared to a fantatic group like the Ladies. And for what it’s worth, I think you would make a great Ben Folds 🙂

  6. I’m trying to get my head around George Kelly as Prince, but Scott Rosenberg has always reminded me of Paul Simon. Mostly a physical and accent similarity.

    Can I nominate myself as G.G. Allin? …

  7. Oh, my.

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds.” — Bob Marley

    Yeah, I guess that’s certainly part of my schtick. 😉

    But who is Dave himself?

    The Grateful Dead? (Bay Area, seen-it-all, been through the ringer but keeps on keeping on, loves everybody, and everyone feels good when they’re around?)

  8. Beck! I am honored by the selection. In case you haven’t caught it yet — a favorite parody song from the way back days of the web: User (sung to the tune of Loser)

    A excerpt:

    Forces of evil in a MUD/MOO nightmare
    Ban all the members in a phony #chat channel ’cause
    One’s got a handle and the other’s got a .plan
    One online spammed the other and ran

    With the FTP and the insane print job
    The daytime crap of the alt.test slob
    He hung himself with a call to ping
    Twenty milliseconds and it’s spitting out another string

    RTFM if you can’t relate
    Trade the Sun for a car and the Web for a date
    And MIME is a nifty hack for mailing to a newbie
    That’s choking on my MPEGs

    So – dumping core
    I’m a user, baby, so why don’t you kill me?
    (Get crazy with the caps lock)

  9. Grateful Dead for you.

    Jack Lail = Bruce Springsteen, working-class guy who knows how to rock, plain-spoken, romantic about past but able to visualize a future and change with the times.

    Steve Yelvington – John Harford? David ‘Dawg’ Grisman?

  10. I just like to add that if you are a songwriter, or someone who writes lyrics, it stands to reason that you are going to look for other outlets for your writing. As a published songwriter, I write everyday, but am fascinated by all things and want to write about these too in a journalistic fashion. It’s fun, and hey, you know me from Broowaha! LOL

  11. Pingback: DigiDave
  12. While I was part of the Copress gang, I always felt a little left out of this, so I got Dave to do me as a musician at ONA10. His pick: Pat Benatar. I totally agree! Pat was a brilliant, ass-kicking b*tch, even if all most people know her for is “Love is a Battlefield.”

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