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24 May 2009 @ 10:42 pm
Look upon my works, ye mighty, and comment!  
So far I have illustrated a few cases where blogs have reached major news stories, where bloggers have been successful in bringing down major news outlets, politicians and journalists. It’s not hard to see that blogs are often making big news now, but can it work the other way? Can we rely on a blog to bring us the news the way we rely on newspapers, television, or even other online news outlets?

It seems unlikely to me that bloggers are as entitled to deliver news as journalists – blogging is not a mainstream, traditional, time-tested format of news service. Of course, there are many journalists and other media professionals that maintain blogs, but these are usually not so much news-distribution services as they are opinion forums, somewhere for the journalist to go and vent their opinions outside of their (hopefully) unbiased day-job.

Of course, there are certain blogs that deliver news that caters to certain audiences. The ridiculously popular Perez Hilton blog, for example, reaches millions daily to deliver news regarding celebrity gossip and entertainment. The website is updated every day (sometimes less, especially since Britney isn't as crazy anymore), which is quite a lot for a type of journalism previously restricted to monthly check-out fodder magazines. Of course, like most blogs, Perez Hilton’s bias clearly shows on the topic of certain celebrities, and so even in the realm of gossip journalism, the reader is subject to the bloggers’ biases.

So blogs aren’t exactly a source of news, and ‘blogger’ has not (yet) replaced the word ‘journalist’, but can professional journalists learn anything from the rise of blogging? You could say that journalists need to adapt their craft to make their sources and information-gathering practices more transparent, especially for an audience that is increasingly used to having access directly to writers’ primary sources on the web (Bruns, 2004). Some see blogs as forums where “veracity is deleted and placed in the trash”, but verifying sources is also an issue in print journalism where there is not always the opportunity to do so, usually due to spacing or article structure issues.

For example, a news article may be written in the very same manner in an online setting as it is in a newspaper (especially for newspaper websites, where many of the articles appearing in the print form will appear verbatim on the site), yet online articles often have hypertext links scattered throughout. These can lead readers to older news articles in order to provide history on a developing news story, or as I have previously outlined in the Dan Rather and Trent Lott entries, in cases where the focus of the story is somewhere else on the web, then the reader has direct access to the heart of the story.

Another feature of internet news and opinion mediums that are usually heralded as one of the great democratic features of the internet are the comments sections attached to most articles. Although they do encourage further debate and scrutiny of both the subjects of the articles and the structure of the articles themselves, they also provide platforms for policy lobbying.

Speaking hypothetically, an online conservative group could easily decide to rally together to 'spam' an article on a popular news website regarding a progressive issue, such as gay marriage, with a barrage of anti-gay marriage comments. In this way, an article free of bias from the writer could be flooded with comments leaning to a certain extreme opinion, and anyone reading that article could then either be influenced by those comments or associate that article, or that entire news story, with the bias expressed in the comments.

Either way, journalistic impartiality can be undermined through an overly liberal approach to news presentation, and in that way print media practices are better off remaining as they are.

American ninja delivery girlthekatiefactor on May 30th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
This is why ohnotheydidnt has been a part of my life for the past three years.