Blogs won’t take over newspapers

(Week 6 Journal)

Blogs are certainly a form of citizen journalism, but although they prove to be a complementary addition to the existing forms of journalism, they will never be able to take over existing media.

The most critical disadvantage that blog-generated contents contain is the question about how credible that information is. Currently, news agencies and other news-related service providers act as a gatekeeper, which not only protects reporters, but also protects the public in that the entity takes responsibility for what it publishes. Writers of blogs, however, are not yet required to follow guidelines or certain fact re-checking procedures that are undertaken in major news servicers.

It is also interesting to note that much of the controversial blog-generated contents were created by people already involved to some extent, in journalism. The reason these contents became so widely known was because the writer already had an established credibility from his or her job, although that job necessarily may not have a direct link with the particular contents contained in the blog. This is why perhaps, certain Internet portals, in desperate search of UCC, are thinking of beginning a separate blog newsfeed service- not with citizen reporters, but with real reporters, to ensure a certain level of quality or credibility in the news.

However, as citizen-participated news Web sites such as OhMyNews have shown, sometimes the regular citizen notices things that reporters have not. Even with their extensive network of reporters, even wire news agencies such as Reuters or AP could not cover all aspects of society.

News agencies should therefore encourage citizens to participate in generating news contents, but should also establish a separate department with people who monitor such material. In Scandinavia, some newspapers are already doing such services; the contents that they receive from citizens include not only text but photos as well. The only difference is that based on these citizens’ reports, the newspapers conduct indepth reporting to confirm facts provided by the citizen. If this filtering process does not take place, it would be difficult to determine which citizen reports were created out of the feeling of making the society a better place, and which were merely promotional reports with no sound facts to support the claim.

Blogs, as the word web-log implies, are extremely personal areas being used increasingly as a marketing tool, not only for companies, but for individuals as well. But because of the subjectivity (and one-sided views) that blogs allow, readers should keep in mind that the information contained in blogs has an element of high risk.

[Feedback from Rebecca]

What I want to push you on is the issue raised by Nick Sylvester’s situation. That is, are credible facts actually what makes journalism reliable or unreliable? In some cases the print media uses facts in a way that causes them to be misleading even if they are true. In other cases, such as Nick’s writing, interesting and worthwhile ideas are communicated without reliance on the reader trusting the facts. I agree with you that there are advantages to having a medium where facts are checked, but it seems to me that we often fail to see the advantages of media like blogs because we are so hung up on the facts not being checked. A medium where facts aren’t checked gives a writer a whole lot more freedom in the communication that is lost when you go to a fact-checked medium like print news. We tend to see the advantages of the fact checking without considering all of the modes of communication that we are prevented from getting because of the fact-checking requirement.

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