March 10, 2005
Does blogging mean a return to hard news?
Blogging routinely gets called out for credibility problems, and instead of admitting them bloggers usually just deflect by saying "CBS! Memogate!" But blogging does have a credibility problem; a lot of it is speculative and inflammatory. The naysayers think that rumor and innuendo will replace the New York Times, while both sides pretend that there's a war between citizen media and the "MSM."
Meanwhile, pro media has been having its own problems. On The Media talked to of Tom Fenton during this week's show about the failings of the news media.
There were the attacks on the American servicemen at Kubar Towers in Saudi Arabia, in the early 1990s. That was followed by the attacks on two American embassies in Africa, followed by the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and in each case, we reported the stories, but we gave almost no context. We didn't try to connect the dots for the American public. And then, when 9/11 came along, people asked "Why do they hate us?" I mean, that was the most damning indictment of what we had failed to do during the 1990s.
The news media is spending a lot of time on soft news these days, and that's where bloggers are going to eat their lunch. Gawker is going to be able to cover Paris Hilton twenty times as well as the local news with their "You won't believe what Paris is up to now" teasers. There will be a market shift, and newspeople who don't adapt will lose their jobs.
Does this mean the end of the traditional journalist? Hardly; bloggers and journalists have a symbiotic relationship. Bloggers mine the news for interesting stuff, then add opinions. Journalists can mine blogs for tips, then add context and fact checking. Bloggers on the ground will report what's going on around them, it's up to the journalists to take that and turn it into something that informs people. The journalists that embrace their role as professionals will thrive. The ones that re-print press releases will fail to compete in the market against the likes of Engadget.
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