This is an unpublished essay that has been languishing on my hard drive for a few weeks; I am looking for input from you, my blogo-friends, to more fully develop it for publication.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