First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.

[Cross posted to Flackster]

I've used this Gandhi quote as a post heading in the past, but it seems even more appropriate for the topic at hand this time around.

There's been a minor bushfire spreading through the blogvines in the last few weeks, building into something bigger and more important as each successive blogger and MSM outlet picks up the story.

In short: Gaurav Sabnis, a blogger in India quit his job with IBM after something of a dust storm blew up over his online criticism of a local IBM client, IIPM, and that client's pigheaded and disproportionate over-reaction. As a result, what was a minor dust storm grew into a tornado of criticism and intense online scrutiny of IIPM, spilling over into the mainstream and causing no end of embarrassment for them.

Mark Glaser's account of the tale at Online Journalism Review provides a thorough analysis of the brouhaha and draws some useful conclusions.

To me, the most interesting aspect of what's happened here is not the tale of IIPM's cluelessness -- although that is indeed mighty, and certainly worthy of the scorn and outrage being directed their way by many in the blogosphere.

No; what resonates most for me is the exact point Mark Glaser chooses to make in the closing paragraphs of his piece:

"Bloggers + MSM = better media?"

Mark gets that there is an inevitable and appropriate AND logic in play here. As he says:

"The story of IIPM and its battle with JAM and Indian bloggers follows a familiar trajectory here in the U.S.: There's a story in a smallish magazine, picked up and magnified by bloggers, then picked up and magnified by the mainstream media (MSM). This snowball effect has bloggers exulting, and the MSM taking bloggers much more seriously."

As I've said before - this is why I don't buy into the ongoing "journalism vs. blogging" debate - it's because the "vs." part is so painfully wrong. This is what Forbes failed to get in letting Dan Lyons run off leash.

It's not "Them" OR "Us", it's You AND Me.

Bloggers + MSM = better media. Damn straight.

Complementary, collaborative, mutually reinforcing, keeping each other honest.

When a blogger fisks a poorly-researched, badly-argued MSM piece - that's good. And when an MSM reporter responds to an inflammatory, baseless blog post with their own dissection, rebuttal, and counterpoint - that's good too.

Conversation. Debate. Ebb and flow.

Blog-like "participatory" media initiatives such as Newsvine clearly have the potential to OR and then NOT mainstream media outlets that fail to understand this.

But seeing the AND value is a much smarter path, and one more likely to improve the quality and amplitude of reporting everywhere.

Bonus links:

1. Doc points to a five-year-old interview with the late Peter Drucker, in which Drucker tangentially underscores a related aspect of the AND.

2. The Toronto Star so very nearly gets it. They've adopted blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds. One of their smartest reporters, Tyler Hamilton, has a piece in this morning's @Biz section, print and online, on the importance of podcasting to traditional print media outlets. It's a great piece. Tyler gets it.

The reason the Star only very nearly scores, IMHO? Clicking that link to Tyler's story requires you to register before you can read it. So near, yet so far...