Nov 27, 2005

On The Role Of Bloggers In Journalism

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This is an unpublished essay that has been languishing on my hard drive for a few weeks; I am looking for input from you, my blogo-friends, to more fully develop it for publication.

(Toledo, OH) The ubiquitous PC and the explosion of Internet activity have changed the nature of communications in general and journalism in particular. Perhaps no phenomenon in the information revolution, however, has the potential for transformation as the weblog.

Designated homepages were once the province of computer geeks, and tended to focus on more mundane content such as family life and technical arcanity.

Matt Drudge jolted the world of journalism with his arrival as the first truly virtual news site. He was the first to break the Monica Lewinsky saga, and the Internet was no longer seen as a novelty.

The emergence of the weblog (known colloquially as the “blog”) brings the power of publication to anyone with a modem or wireless connection. From one’s front porch the events of the day can be recorded for the world to see.

From personal experience I have found that bloggers have a competitive edge over mainstream media in their ability to get unfiltered information out in near-real time. Wireless signals can be found in the most unexpected places – even in the middle of neo-Nazi rallies and urban riots – and digital photography and video allows images to be broadcast across the globe without the interference of a corporate bureaucracy.

I dance on a tightrope between both jorunalistic worlds (not to mention my academic writing); I freelance for local and national publications while simultaneously devoting a lot of time to blog work. I am thus looked on with suspicion by some bloggers, who see me as tainted with mainstream media biases. Mainstream journalists, though, tend to view bloggers with disdain, and I have been chided for "wasting my time" by shortsighted traditionalists who have yet to recognize that the Internet is permanently changing the field of journalism.

The blogosphere, however, lacks any sort of consensus as to traditional standards of journalism. Some argue that this is the height of freedom, while others fear that non-professionals entering the field of journalism pose a threat to the quality of published news.

Personally I believe that a balance will be achieved between the two extremes, and that bloggers will act as both a check against the mainstream media as well as being a supplement. Stories ignored by the mainstream media will get the coverage they deserve, while extremists and conspiracy theorists will still occupy their position on the rhetorical fringes.

9 comments:

Mrs. Phoenix said...

"Stories ignored by the mainstream media will get the coverage they deserve, while extremists and conspiracy theorists will still occupy their position on the rhetorical fringes."

Hence, the reason why web blogs are sooooo VALUABLE IMHO. For every bloody headline ('cause if it BLEEDS, it LEADS!) that hits mainstream media's attention, there are 20 other BETTER ones that are IGNORED. Web blogs ARE the final frontier.

Lisa Renee said...

Mike,

I think the only ones who are viewed with suspicion are those who are paid to blog. Whose primary source of income is from blogging ads or some source paying them to blog. Especially when it comes to political endorsements and money behind the scenes which is becoming a problem in with the larger blogs.

I know a few other real journalists who blog on the side, and I don't feel they are dishonest or suspect. In many ways they are more open because during the course of their employment they have to follow certain editorial policies that their blog gives them the freedom to step outside of. They like you make it very clear when it is a personal opinion. Some do not list their real names or which organizations they write for to protect their identity.

I don't consider myself a journalist, I am a blogger. The main problem I see with the blogosphere is the potential for false information to spread quickly yet the correction at many times does not follow. At it's best moments it is a source of news and information that can influence Main Stream Media sources to pick up stories that might have never been covered, at it's worst it can be a National Enquirer type situation where rumors and unproven innuendo flies with no correction.

Like any source of information it has the potential for good and evil.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Blogging will definitely find its' place, but what about those pesky journalistic standards that you may feel compelled to adhere to while I offer my opinions freely without the same pressures.

We agree that blogging what the MSM is unwilling to "waste" their precious ink on, yet need to be covered.

That, I believe, is why the MSM's audience/readership will continue shrinking.

ajax saith said...

===================================
"while extremists and conspiracy theorists will still occupy their position on the rhetorical fringes"
===================================

yes i count my lucky stars and am so very grateful that we have the internet, the extreme left has spent a generation trying to take over the news media and create the false impresion that the majority of the population (all races) are liberal at heart, they have been successful at taking complete control of the educational institutions over a period of a generation, and here we have this last remaining final frontier of freedom

it is so vast it is a universe in and unto itself and has come into existence over such a short time span that it has left everyone in awe, the human ocean is trying to get a grip, trying to see how they can control and tax and censor the internet , to shape and direct it as they have all of the other avenues of opinion and the market place of ideas and viewpoints

this is why it is so very critical to keep the internet as free as possible and without taxation as much as possible

and this means keeping open the so-called websites of what they think of as being hateful (white nationalist websites that dare to promote and defend the white race nation) that the left would desperately like to shutdown ...hal turners website for example drives the left wild because hal pushes the envelope (he does this to get a response from the left) to the extreme

let us keep all websites open that cover all the spectrum of opinion of political viewpoint

the only ones which should be shutdown or not permitted to be established are those directly related to criminal activity such as any website that were to involve itself directly as a clearinghouse for drug transactions or violent contracts such as money for hit jobs or jewelry store heists

as a white nationalist myself let me say i welcome without hesitation and with no desire of anykind to obstruct in any manner any and all hate websites from the left and all hate websites from non white race militant groups

because i would desire complete freedom to air my thoughts and viewpoints, in fairness i would never hesitate to permit the same for my enemies

as these websites of extreme viewpoints grow in number and they begin to organize and mobilize masses of people (assuming it will happen) into armies of voting blocks and or legions of miltant groups that take action (non violent) they become a threat to the established order, it is this 'threat-possibility' on the horizon that frightens many who have spent their lives to direct society into the direction that they want it to travel on, it is the possibility of alternate realities of viewing society and the social norm that may be different from what has become the established order that greatly disturbs the activists from the left and their multi culti cultists that stirs in them an angst in their mind to streach forth their censor arm and reach out with their censor claws to silemce those who disagree with their political reality agenda that they have spent a generation indoctrinating stuents into that they may enter society and in turn infect others

let the internet freedom ring and reign for all mankind

ps: i never want to hear any pompous smug ivory towered harvard or yale professor muse in any publication or speech or discussion group what the 'right' place the internet freedom has for society or 'purpose' it should serve .... the moment these high minded 'above it all' white robed self appointed social Pharaohs extend their pen to decide how the internet should exist in society they begin to construct their blue print of social engineering and simultaneously they draw out of their back pocket the censor scissor to cut away what they themselves do not like (those internet elements --websites--) that are a threat to them and their own agenda

Lisa Renee said...

While I would normally agree with you that freedom of speech is important Ajax, I think Mr. Turner's issues are brought upon by his own poor choices of behavior rather than some attempt to silence him. Things like this as reported by NBC5:

A self-described "white racialist" Internet author is soliciting the addresses of three judges who ruled against white supremacist Matthew Hale, one week after the family of a federal judge was murdered.

One week ago, federal judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's husband and mother were found murdered in her home. Lefkow is now under federal protection. There have been more than 600 tips to a special police hot line on the Lefkow case, while there have been more than 30 calls to "America's Most Wanted" television show, which featured the case this weekend.

On his Web site, Hal Turner makes references to all three 7th Circuit judges who ruled against Hale in a trademark solicitation case, NBC5's Phil Rogers reported. He then asks readers to provide their home addresses. Turner said he wanted the judges' addresses to apply pressure to them through protests, mail or other external means for their rulings.

"I can understand why people might think that's something to be concerned about," Turner said. "But certainly, I have no malicious intent -- I do not intend to hurt the judges or incite any harm to the judges, but have you to have faith in the American people."

The FBI is investigating Turner, Rogers reported, and paid a visit to him last week.

Turner's Web site is loaded with references to other judges who have been the subject of violence. Turner's Web site has posted a photo of Lefkow with the caption "Gotcha."


Just as you do not have the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre when there is not only no fire but no smoke? Pushing the envelope as Mr. Turner has done by coming very close to giving encouragement to commit violence against people, especially judges? Creates the problems for him. If he were truly just focusing on the message as you state? Seriously doubt there would be an issue. He can claim till he is blue in the face he "meant no harm" yet the fact remains he posted the "gotcha" then removed it. He like many others create these situations on purpose to gain publicity. He's gotten more traffic and support from creating situations where he is going to be "unfairly" shut down. It's all about spin, and Mr. Turner like some others? Have that down to a fine art form.

ajax saith said...

to lisa renee:

hal turner is a white nationalist extremist, if i were to setup a website espousing the white race nation history and present concerns i would do so with the ideal of presenting to the world an image of the highest honor and dignity that i would desire to be accorded to the white race nation people

the way you win your argument is to show that you have the high moral ground ...this is why the minority civil rights movement was so successful they presented their arguments and positions and depended on the good conscious (of the white race) to win them over, and of course they did so by ushering in such legislation as the minority civil rights act and affirmative action-quota programs and changing the immigration rules so that the floodgates would open to have waves of third world people drown out the rightful white majority presence

the hal turner websites have very limited impact beyond triggering emotional interest, they cannot mobilize armies of people to launch a race war

the right thinking white race population do not consider websites like hal turners beyond nominal interest and comical relief

however hal turner speaks to and for the white race nevertheless and he has a place, when all of the non-white nationalist militant websites are gone then they can remove hal turner's

where to draw the line? i am not sure, if hal turner offered an amount of money to have someone killed and the transaction took place and the act was completed then of course you have a criminal act and duty to prosecute

to desire someone's death is a matter of free speech and should be protected...to post addresses does push the envelope

but i am not sure at what point a crime as been committed ...many people desire bush and cheney dead ..if someone were to bump off bush or cheney and the assassin points to a 'hate-bush' or 'hate-cheny'website as the source of inspiration then the national attention would focus the halogen-headlamp spotlight on that website and it would become a website test case of freedom of speech

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Those who view you with suspicion because of your mainstream media work are just engaging in pseudo-intellectual snobbery. Ignore them.

historymike said...

Yes, anonymous - these sorts of territorial behaviors irritate me.

I see versions of snobbery in academia, "real" journalism, and in almost every human endeavor. People get into these clique-ish mentalities about their own area of expertise and sometimes want to shut out anyone from the outside.

Dariush said...

"I think the only ones who are viewed with suspicion are those who are paid to blog. Whose primary source of income is from blogging ads or some source paying them to blog. Especially when it comes to political endorsements and money behind the scenes which is becoming a problem in with the larger blogs."

Yes and no. Nothing should ever be taken at face value. No matter if the blogger/writer is a pauper, independently wealthy or well-off, or is raking in a six-figure salary courtesy of various corporations, think-tanks and "endowments."

Josh Marshall is still a pretty good source even though he certainly falls in the latter category.

NewDonkey.com and BullMooseBlog.com are both sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council and get loads of corp/found money. And yet they're both pretty decent blogs.

TPMCafe.com, Huffington Post... lots of examples of good corporate/endowment blogs.

Of course, the best blogs and alternative media outlets are the ones that are completely independent.

But you'd be surprised at how many alternative/progressive media outlets receive foundation money and even CIA funding. The Nation, The Progressive and In These Times just to name three.