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Blogging and Journalism: The Good

January 14, 2010

Blogging is good for journalism, and important to journalism, because it gives journalists a means to present information in a more immediate format. It also connects journalists, both professional and citizen, located around the world and allows them to communicate news to major news sources, and therefore, to mass audiences quickly. The Lede, the news blog for the New York Times, demonstrates the importance of this ability.

This blog began a thread post related to the earthquake in Haiti at 9:29 pm on Tuesday, Jan. 12th. The post was updated regularly with information from Lede authors until 10:00 pm on Wednesday, at which point it notified its followers that coverage would resume Thursday morning, and suggested readers refer to the front page of the New York Times website for updated information until coverage on the blog resumed. The blog thread focused on how to gain information on the earthquake and the disaster relief going on in Haiti from various Internet sources. It cites various Internet sources that are providing information on Haiti, including websites for organizations working on sending aid to the survivors, and twitter feeds from individuals and professional journalists in Haiti reporting on what is going on.

The information presented on this blog post works in several ways ways. It provides readers with information on the story at hand. By copy/pasting excerpts from twitter feeds and websites, the updates make small additions to the overall information available. The post also provides outside sources for the readers to consult by linking the excerpts it uses to the page they’re taken from, giving the readers the ability to learn more about the situation and find contacts in Haiti via twitter to follow or ask questions of. Finally, the blog uses the comment thread as a way for readers to post additional information that may not have been included in any of the updates, or that may help the blog’s writers provide better information for the readers. The blog’s readers have been using the thread, in addition to posting information, as a way to ask questions about what is going on in certain areas of Haiti, and to ask for help in finding relatives or friends that were in the area when the earthquake hit.

So, how is this good for journalism? In the simplest sense, a blog like this enhances the story, and gives a sense of immediacy to the information being presented. In a newspaper format, or even on the website for a newspaper without a blog, the information presented is limited to the space of the article. If a journalist wants to present new information, they have to wait until there is enough material to merit another article. Short news bulletins and announcements provide one solution to this, but often they aren’t enough to tell the full story behind a breaking piece of news. With a blog, a post can have an endless number of updates, and these are all linked under the common theme of the blog, so readers can follow the information as it updates or changes.

Additionally, the blog format allows for the information presented to be discussed or challenged through user posts to the comment threads. In posts to blogs like the Lede post for Haiti, users can add to the discussion and present information, essentially taking on the role of the Journalist and adding to the story. In other situations, the comments can be based more on the opinions of the readers. A post from The Opinionator, another New York Times blog, this one focused (obviously) on opinion pieces, features information on reactions to the Haiti disaster from various popular blogs from around the Internet. In contrast to the comments on the Lede post, the comments here turn to opinions about specific blog articles, blogging in general, issues brought up in the blogs presented, or issues with the post.

Both uses of the comment threads presented in these blogs work to promote accountability from the journalists writing the posts. If they provide bad information, a user may correct them, or point it out to other readers, and the journalist could lose their credibility and detract from the audience’s perceived credibility of the blog. Likewise, if a blogger writes and opinion piece without justifying his claim, or if he/she presents a deviant opinion that seems unacceptable to a large portion of their readership, they will hear about it in the comment threads. It’s even possible for a blogger to have to change their opinion, or concede to the popular demands of their audience, in order to maintain credibility and readership (see techcrunch article  – the author has to concede to his reader’s complaints about his post).

The developing relationship between a writer and his/her audience marks a shift in the way information is presented in the media, from a one-way dissemination of information from the media to the consumer, to a two-way dialogue between author and reader, which will make the old days of corrections buried in the innards of a printed paper a thing of the past, and will force journalists to check their facts and get their story right before a reader has a chance to call them out on their mistakes.

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2 comments

  1. […] The Blog Just another WordPress.com weblog « Blogging and Journalism: The Good […]


  2. […] Rachel Davis: News blogs can gather and publish information faster than traditional news articles and connect readers and journalists through the use of comment threads. […]



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