Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Blog Journalism Revisited

Yesterday I wrote about how bloggers cannot yet claim to be journalists. Since then I've found other articles on this topic.

Christopher Hanson writing for The Baltimore Sun:

Many of the best journalists have impact because they expose serious abuses of power, as in Watergate, by painstakingly verifying their facts. But, perversely enough, bloggers' impact often derives from reckless impatience - a rush to shoot first and verify later, usually driven by ideological zeal.

Take Clinton-hater Drudge, whose online "scoop" about the president's affair with Monica Lewinsky was essentially a rumor. Because the story later turned out to be true, Mr. Drudge suddenly was elevated to media icon, kitchen table giant killer, radio and TV star. No matter that he had also reported a series of false rumors. One can't expect a cyber-cowboy to match the standards that apply to a Dan Rather!

Garance Franke-Ruta at The American Prospect Online:

“Are bloggers journalists?” is a question that’s been kicking around for a few years, and both bloggers and journalists answer it by saying no. Journalists insist on the distinction because most bloggers don’t do original reporting or double-check information for its accuracy. Bloggers, for their part, often see themselves as polemicists and activists and chafe at being held to journalistic standards.

... Not only are most bloggers not journalists; increasingly they are also partisan operatives whose agendas are as ideological as they come. Using the cover of anonymity (many bloggers use pseudonyms), the cacophony of the relatively new medium, and the easily inflamed passions of the Web, these partisan political operatives are becoming experts at stirring up hornets’ nests of angry e-mails to editors, mounting campaigns to force advertisers to pull out of news shows, and, most disturbingly, spreading outright false information. The irony is that, at the same time this is happening, many in the mainstream media have decided it’s finally time to take bloggers seriously.

Jeff Jarvis at buzzmachine regularly comments on the surrounding issues with illustrations to examine of the latest angle.

Bloggers aren't journalists but journalists are sometimes bloggers. And, like life, things sometimes happen to mess up the whole thing. Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice wrote about blogger Garrett M. Graff (FishbowlDC) achieving accreditation to the White House press pool:

Mark THIS DATE in your book, journalism students, because it's the day blogging has come of age.

Today is when a blogger goes to the White House, not as someone being thrown a political bone to meet the President, but on a full-fledged daily press pass...

This is truly a day when blogging moves from being an exotic army of boisterous citizens with laptops holding torches as they storm the castle to slay the story monster towards a day when blogging becomes an integral part of what journalism schools talk about and perhaps even eventually teach.
Of course, the blog is a newly evolving category of publication. In order to gain credibility, political bloggers must move toward a higher standard of ethics and accountability. I think the many bloggers that have such credibility are held to such standards because they write under the auspices of an established mainstream publication - which means editors, fact-checkers, supervision, and accountability. Of course, some bloggers of impeccible credibility and reputation maintain their own high standards and self-accountability. Dave Neiwert immediately comes to mind.

So there's hope.

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