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Blogging and Journalism: The Future

January 18, 2010

The future effects of blogging on the mainstream media are unclear. Obviously, the isses presented in my last blog need to be addressed. Individuals need to learn how to present the information they are discussing in their posts in an ethical manner. Likewise, journalisits who want to use material from blogs or other social media-based sites that allow users to present information need to learn to check their sources, and not assume that readers will judge the information cited from blogs differently than any other fact presented in the piece.

Based on statistics, blogs seem to have a secure and growing place in Internet as well as mainstream media. According to a survey done by Technocrati in 2007 on the state of the blogosphere, there were over 70 million blogs world wide, and the upward growth of created blogs suggests that the trend will likely continue.

The role of the mainstream media in blogging is still unclear. News sources are increasingly using blogging on their sites to incorporate reader opinion via the blogs’ comment threads. Sites like nytimes.com use blogs to supplement the information presented in news articles. Seattlepi.com allows its readers to act as “citizen journalists” for the site and actively seeks out bloggers from the Seattle area to create content for the newspaper. The success of these news blogs in comparison to non-mainstream blogs is still uncertain (The Seattle PI’s site is an active experiment in whether blogging can overtake a newspaper completely) but their place within mainstream news websites seems more certain with each passing day due to growing popularity and increasing numbers of readers turning to the internet and news sites, rather than print newspapers, for their daily news.

The relationship between mainstream news sources and blogs is a stressed one. This is, in part, because the rules in the blogosphere are not as clear as the laws that govern the actions of journalists. For example, in 2008, the Associated Press filed lawsuits against bloggers who used material from AP articles, claiming that because the blog sites did not pay for the use of the articles, they did not have the right to reproduce them on their sites. The bloggers claimed the articles should be available for their use according to fair use laws. AP claimed the bloggers use of the articles violated copyright law. And no one was certain who was right.

As I discussed earlier this week, rules need to be established in blogging to control what type of information is presented. The blogosphere, at present, seems to be an area ruled by norms rather than law, which is especially dangerous when anonymity is prevalent, and the penalties that typically accompany the violation of a norm (embarrassment, expulsion from the group, etc.) can not be enforced.  But, it seems there is still a gread deal of future promise for the blogoshpere.

According to the 2009 Technocrati State of the Blogosphere report (which, unlike the 2007 report, studies who bloggers are, rather than how many blogs are available), 35 percent of the bloggers surveyed worked, at some point, for a mainstream media news outlet. 24 percent of those individuals still worked for the mainstream media, and blogged separately, while 3 percent worked as bloggers for a mainstream media source. For blogs, this may mean that journalistic ethics are being carried over into blog-writing. For journalists, this means there is a place for them in the blogosphere, if ever the mainstream media apocalypse that is so popular among non-mainstream bloggers were to occur. Overall, it represents a merging of the mediums, and this, I believe, is what needs to occur for blogging and journalism to be successful in the future.

The two mediums, blogging and (mass media) journalism, can effectively work together if individuals realize that they can serve very different purposes. Blogs are public, and can operate as a space for public discussion to occur (an online public sphere, of sorts). While journalism provides information to the public, newspapers are private, in that their interest is the business of publishing. To make money, the newspaper must provide news to the public that is accurate and presented ethically. This news gives the public something to discuss in the public sphere (aka, for my purposes, blogging). In some cases, blogs attempt to operate like newspapers, which is fine as long as they follow the rules of newspapers and recognize that they have a responsibility, as informers of the public, to provide valid information.

In public blogs, individuals may work to check the private news sources by discussing flaws in reporting or alternative points of view that were not presented. The news sources (blogs or mass media news outlets) in turn work to check the public blogs by providing new information that may change opinion or answer questions about certain events.

I believe that the future of blogging, and of journalism is safe, simply because one medium needs the other. The desire (one might say habit) to discuss the news has existed in the public since the creation of “news”. Blogs merely operate as a online space to do this (whether discussing mainstream news or what may be important news to you). Because they allow users to present their ideas against others, and give bloggers and readers/commenters the potential to have an effect on news media via their posts, blogging may change journalism in that it will force journalists to be more accountable. Eventually (I believe) this will apply to blog-journalists as well, when it is realized that bloggers presenting news are essentially journalists.

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One comment

  1. […] Rachel Davis discusses how the futures of blogging and journalism are secure because of the trend of Journalists becoming bloggers and the need for blogging as a check on journalism, and journalism as a source of information for blogs. […]



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