News from the front: Blogs Vs. Journalism

DISCLAIMER: Yeah, yeah, yeah – this conversation has been going on for a long long time now, and the uberbloggers (or should I say metabloggers – means exactly the same thing, doesn’t it?) have their set ideas about the now old debate, and perhaps moot point, of whether blogs are/can be journalism and all that fun stuff. HOWEVER, I’m not writing this for Gillmor, Rosen, Lasica, or any other journbloggosphero types.

I’m in J-School, and not everyone in the building has read everything there is to read on the topic just yet. There are quite a few Profs here with more than a few years decades of journalism experience under their belts, not to mention years of teaching, and frankly, precious few of them buy into the idea of horizontal communication.

With a few exceptions that I know of so far, most of them are not reading blogs, and thus, not participating in the conversation, and that goes for most of the students I come into contact with, also.

So keeping that in mind, here’s another post on B-v-J issues:

Tuesday night in my grad class it was Blogs vs. Journalism time, and we were treated to a good objective presentation by Lars Ahntholz (no blog yet), including video of the infamous (but not like El Guapo) Ted Hitler bit from the Daily Show, references to Samuel Pepys, Tom Paine, and Tim Berners-Lee.

Some of the most important points I walked away with:

    9/11 was the turning tipping point for blogs, and the tsunami put them over the edge. Why? Because people were looking for raw output of emotion, for a real live person’s feelings about what was going on. (This goes against the conventional wisdom I’ve heard from some uberbloggers that on 9/11 and during the tsunami aftermath, people were turning to blogs for actual, news and information from the scene. I’ve always taken that with a grain of salt, and now I’m pretty sure Lars has the right idea – blogs are far better at emotion than information.)
    This raw emotion plays into the next point: authenticity. This one’s from Lars’ “what journalists can learn from bloggersâ€? section, and it’s that your writing can have some personality. Unmediated, unpolished thoughts will always have more emotion in them and more of your voice in them.
    Lars on the lecture model of the MSM vs. conversation model of blogs: journalists need to learn from blogs that publication/broadcast is not the end of the story, but rather “it just gets started.â€? For me, this applies not only to the ideas of interaction with media consumers, citizen journalism, comments and complaints aired online, but also, there’s something to be said here about media responsibility: a common complaint lodged against blogs is the lack of accountability, but let’s turn this around: by creating a conversation, blogs are taking responsibility for the extension of their writing/reporting/informing/sharing of ideas. Blogs automatically expect interaction, they expect comments, hope for them, intend to communicate, not broadcast. (with some obvious exceptions, who STILL get tons of info from the readers, just not necessarily in the public view). What can journalists learn from this? That to INTENT TO COMMUNICATE is different from the INTENT TO BROADCAST.
    What can bloggers learn from journalists? Lars: “ask before you attack.â€? This is something I’ve just gotten into as I’ve written the articles for my first journalism writing class this semester. It’s a basic rule of journalism: before you publish something that attacks someone, get a quote, call them up, drop an email – give them a chance to comment – adding more voices to your story can only help it.

Really, this still might not be the last thing I have to say about this, but the semester is winding down, so there’s hope.

UPDATE: In Comments below, Lars points out that the “What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists” and vice versa material came from Poynter. Thanks Lars!

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