Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Location, Location, Location

Read Jay Rosen’s opening statements for some conference called “Blogging, Journalism & Credibility.” His title: “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over.” Elements on the right never turn loose of something, once it’s set, so I don’t agree with his title, but the text of his message was interesting and made me start thinking of blogging’s role in journalism – especially MSM.

I believe of all the terms he used for journalism through blogging, self-publishing journalist and J-blogger are the best and I may use them in the future. Blogging is the most excited use of my Journalism major I have ever had. Writing like any other skilled endeavor, takes practice. Runners run, musicians play, and athletes train, and journalist should write. My blogging has greatly refreshed by writing abilities – although I know I need an editor or at least peer review. Spell checker is great but it’s no editor. At any rate, the blogging experience has come in great where I work, the text of bureaucratic memos and reports seems to flow much easier now that I blog.

Journalism students should include web page design in their studies. (They should also be force to read “Today’s Papers” at Slate, but that’s subject for another blog.)

Rosen’s link to Rebecca Blood’s essay on what a journalist is and isn’t was so interesting, I’m getting the book on blogging. If there is one thing I learned in school, it was to respect the etiquette of any medium.

Bloggings role in journalism reminds me of the time in America’s early history when we were still a colony of Great Britain. Pamphleteers flourished then, and bloggers are like them by self publishing. Coming up through the ranks from paper boy to editor or publisher is one of the great American stories, until like other professions mentioned in Rosen’s post, journalist positions could only obtained by college graduates. This phenomena was recently illustrated by the story of Watergate by Woodward (degree but not in journalism) and Bernstein (some college) beating the MSM journalist. (How ironic that two guys who had no degree in journalism swelled the ranks of journalism majors. I majored in journalism years before Watergate – I thought I wanted to be a writer. My education was interrupted by an invitation from Uncle Sam to attend a little thing he had going on in Southeast Asia. Damn! I’ve strayed from my subject again – see why I need an editor.)

One point I noticed in Rosen’s post was the comment on how J-bloggers can not be controlled in the same way MSM journalism is, but the comment on credibility is valid, and I think, swings much weight. When I got into reading blogs after I read about them in MSM and the undoing of Trent Lott, I read the instapundit almost every time I got on. Glenn was getting a lot of coverage from MSM. However, Glenn lost credibility with me by harping on MSM liberal bias, frequently. I could take this from some uneducated boob, but Glenn has a law degree and teaches at U of Tennessee. (If it’s true what they say about MSM liberal bias, then it must be true what they say about lawyers: They are leeches on society who only live by profiting excessively off the misfortunes of others.)

I don’t believe that about lawyers and I don’t believe that the MSM has undue liberal bias. There is biasness to be sure, but nothing so noble as being liberal (or conservative, for that matter), the bias is toward print space, air time, readership or ratings – and the Holy Grail for reporters, the “scoop.” The scoop trumps political philosophy. Many a news story appears frequently that has no newsworthy value but will certainly attract reader or viewers. I’m hopping that J-bloggers will help curtail this from the news.

I am also hopping that J-bloggers will help rid journalism one of its worse practices: the unattributable source. The slap down of CBS for the “fake memos” would not have been as bad for them had they gone with a named source. Journalists who use unnamed sources get what they deserve. I know, I know, there would have been no Watergate had there been no Deep Throat. I prefer the example of Judith Miller of The New York Times running front page stories about the WMD’s in Iraq from an unnamed source while Knight-Ridder was saying there was no truth to the stories based on an unnamed source. Maybe we need unnamed sources but I would like to see what it would be like with out them. If J-bloggers can rein in the use of unattributable sources, then by this alone they will have performed a great service.

Since getting into reading blogs, I have found one of the most important features in the various indices and their ranking of sites. I have read some of the best reports, essays and news reports thought the ranking sites at and Most have been stories in MSM, but I was pointed to them by so many bloggers linking to them. I feel I am more informed now than I have ever been before.

I believe these are exciting times for journalist as a new paradigm is beginning to form. Rather than being the undoing of journalism, J-blogging may very well be its redemption. The concept of objectivity may very well be dead, but it is a worthy goal: objectivity with context. “The Senator stated that he has a slip of paper with the names of Communist in the State Department. However, the Senator is big blowhard and full of shit.” This report would have been timely in its day, saved careers, and maybe even prevented our involvement in another loosing war.

I for one am not worried about blogging effect on journalism. I believe it may return journalist to the ideals that were hammered into me in school.

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