Blogging and Journalism

October 29, 2007

One of the things that is so great about blogging is that your audience can participate and leave thought-provoking comments, like this one from Maryam (check out her blog – I hate to use cliches, but the classic “it’s a feast for the senses” truly applies here) left on this post: “Journalists I know who are not bloggers are concerned that so much of the blog world is so unchecked, unsubstantiated, and yet so influential…They feel it is out of control.  What do you think?”

There seems to be a divide between the bloggers and the non-bloggers on this issue.  The bloggers think that the blogosphere (and in most cases, the web in general) is awesome and wonderful and everyone should participate, while non-bloggers seem to focus on the more negative aspects of blogging.  Personally, I tend to take both sides with a grain of salt, although clearly I fall on the pro-web side.

In fact, that grain of salt is necessary when reading blogs as well – while posts on say, the New York Times’s array of blogs can be considered fairly credible, as well as the posts on plenty of independent blogs (just because someone doesn’t work for a major media outlet doesn’t mean they are necessarily incorrect or dishonest, after all), it is essential to realize that many bloggers or people who post/comment/write things on the web aren’t accountable to anyone, particularly if they’re anonymous. 

Is it getting out of control?  I’m not sure that’s the case – one of the best things about the blogosphere, in my opinion, is that anyone can participate and share their version of the truth, and out of all the stories, we can all form our own opinions and views.  Of course, gossip does tend to run rampant, but it’s not like bloggers invented sensationalism – the web just lets the juicy stories move faster and reach a bigger audience.  However, it seems that there is always someone ready to report their side of things of as well – the web is kind of self-regulating like that, even if some bloggers are prone to taking a story and running with it. 

I think that part of the problem is the rest of media’s perception of bloggers is the simple fact that the blogosphere encompasses everything from major sites like Daily Kos and the Huffington Postto personal diaries – and for every blogger who posts gossip and speculation (which isn’t something I take issue with as long it’s not presented as facts) or cat pictures, there is someone who’s acting like a journalist and reporting the news from their perspective, like all the brave souls blogging from inside Burma or the people who are first on the scene after a important event or a natural disaster occurs – the ones go places or see things that journalists can’t.

However, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether a blog or website is credible, which is indeed a problem.  It’s not like it’s even remotely possible to issue blogging licenses or regulate the internet – at all.  And isn’t one of the best things about the web is that it’s a completely democratic platform; anyone can publish whatever they want (and for those of you who are going to get all Andrew Keenian here – if you don’t like something, you really don’t have to read/watch/listen to it). 

When it comes to determining the credibility of something on the web, we have to listen to our own instincts (although personally, I tend to immediately discount sites or blogs that are full of spelling and grammatical errors – a few typos are human, but if someone lacks a basic grasp of the language, I don’t listen to them.  A little bitchy, I know, but considering the glut of content on the web and the ease with which anyone can post, taking the time to write and edit something coherent is essential to getting your voice heard).

To that end, is being a blogger really so different from being a columnist?  You’re writing about things from your own perspective, in your own voice, and sharing your opinions on a regular basis.  Some bloggers just have more widely columns than others, the same as traditional journalists.

Of course, feel free to take my opinions with a grain of salt.  I’m a blogger, after all.

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2 Responses to “Blogging and Journalism”

  1. moroccanmaryam said

    Hmmm…interesting. I like the way your mind works – yep, we bloggers are columnists (That has a super nice ring to it:-))

    On a related point, I think that one of the reasons why journalists are frustrated with bloggers is that they feel that they “pop out of nowhere” with either 1)no basic training or 2) little mentoring by those more experienced than they are. So the same sort of journalistic ethics and fact-checking etc., just don’t apply. I also think that they feel that bloggers are simply eating into their margin, without having appropriately earned the right to.

  2. Jacqueline Zenn said

    I agree with you – those do seem to be the problems that many journalists have with bloggers. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a way to combat it, cause it’s not like the web is possible to regulate.

    At least ranking systems like Technorati and such make it possible to determine who is more likely to be credible (e.g. if something is posted on say, the Huffington Post or similiar as opposed to some random blog with low authority).

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