Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mainstream News vs Blogstream Views

We keep talking about it and at some point, professional journalists will "get it". Will bloggers take the place of journalists? Nope - at least I hope not. Will journalists learn that readers are the true reason to write and just may have something to add? Absolutely. I think they instinctively know it now. But never before has the potential been imagined. If newspaper websites develop robust blog conversations and offer the opportunity for feedback - journalists will share and learn. Look back at your own learning curve since starting to blog. I know mines pretty darn steep. Conversation makes all of us better citizens. And bottom line - thats the point of a good newspaper.

David Reich has a great post titled Doing it for Money. Thats merely the title because the real conversation starts on the topic of citizen journalists vs. mainstream media. While not specifically focused on newspapers, he sites statistics from an article in Advertising Age. He plucks this -

A We Media/Zogby Interactive poll showed 72 percent of adults are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in America, and 55 percent say bloggers are important to the future of journalism. Citizen journalism will play a significant role in how we get our news in the future, say 74 percent.
Take a moment to follow Cam Beck's brutally honest and transparent comments. This is the what I really dig about sharing via a blog. Its a "difficult to describe" intangible - sharing that leads to learning about one another. Its at least part of what keeps me posting to this place.

Recently, a sports writer friend of mine said "Blogging just takes up more of my time". At first, I scoffed. Then I read the story he was working on. I can only imagine the time involved in chasing down rumor, getting quotes, making phone calls, waiting for return calls - all on deadline - for a morning story. But you know what? It was factual and verifiable. It was the well researched. It involved history of relationship with the major characters in the story. You don't get that from a blogger.

Imagine if there was a mechanism in place to collaborate? I'd take that in a New York minute :)


David Reich said...

I think eventually some citizen journalists will link up with "real" journalists, where the citizen journos will provide info, photos, feedback from on the ground. Hopefully, the regular guys will then use the traditional vetting, fact-checking and editing machinery to incorporate, but carefully and accurately, what they get from citizen journalists into their stories.

It's just using another form of sourcing. I'm just not crazy about a bunch of citizen journalists, or bloggers, putting stuff out there into the mainstream media without proper filtering.

I'll be writing more on the subject soon.

Cam Beck said...

Bob - Great post, and I agree 100%.

Although in my blog(s) I am largely a commentator, not a journalist, I would greatly profit from a journalist's training. I hope to educate myself in that field before too long, as I want to write a book that will require performing interviews, chasing leads, verifying quotes, etc.

It's not that I can't figure it out enough to do a credible job, but I'd hate to reinvent the wheel when it's not required. I simply don't have the sort of time I would need to get it wrong a thousand times before I got it right.

BobG said...

Thanks to both of you! Your conversation over at 2 cents gave me the nudge I needed. DR - I feel you hit it with citizen journalists being another form of source. Good ones will become more popular - dare I say powerful. And writers have been using sources forever. Cam - all of us are commentators, don't you think? Ever notice how even the popular blog author is constantly referring to events that have already occurred? Where do those come from? I'm convinced its the main stream - unless its totally fictional or a figment of someones imagination. The mechanics of good journalism can definitely be learned - its the time for practice that makes the difference. I'm wondering now if blogging doesn't present that opportunity?

Here's a point I failed to make in my post. After I mentioned to my sports guy to put more stuff on his blog (all of editorial bunch has one and are encouraged to write in it) he posted part of his story. In a conversation later in the week he said that he got 30 comments. Sports readers are rabid when it comes to their team and stories around them. I asked him how it felt - he said "pretty good" with a smile. My gut feeling is a lot of good journalists have not heard any kind of feedback on stories they bust their ass on. Thats a lot different than the feedback and encouragement we (as blog sharers) give and get.

I look forward to more on filtering David. Believe me, its frightening what people take as truth. Discernment is a gift.

Chip Griffin said...

Collaboration between citizen journalists and "real" journalists already exists to some extent, it just isn't a formal process. Those in the traditional media who blog frequently get information from commenters and other bloggers and it can shape the outcome of stories by sharing information, asking questions, or critiquing posts.

I see this happen regularly with the Boston Globe coverage of the Red Sox. Not a serious topic unless you are a New Englander in which case it is life and death. But often topics will come up on the blog and feedback from readers will end up influencing the final product in the paper the next day.

There's nothing formal about it, it's just something that has evolved over time. And it's a good thing.

BobG said...

Its a very good thing Chip - though I'm not sure how you can say anything Red Sox isn't serious :)

Don't think anyone is too sure about how formal the process will (or should) become. Sports is a great example where it works well. To me where it gets real sticky is local politics, city hall stuff, utilities, taxes. To trust citizen journalists with some of that is a tough sell - at least for me.

Chip Griffin said...

Bob, I'm not arguing for citizen journalists replacing "real" ones (though I'm not arguing against it and I'm certainly sidestepping the debate over the differences and when a citizen journalist "becomes" a "real" one).

But I see no problem with reporters covering the kinds of issues you identify accepting tips, information, suggestions, etc. from their audience and fellow bloggers to help shape the tone and content of the coverage.

And everything about the Red Sox is serious. Just ask my 5 year old.

BobG said...

No problem at all helping shape stories, Chip - the key point being collaboration. The alarming part for me is how many people "trust" the views of certain bloggers aka citizen journalists. I don't believe professional journalists are particularly more trustworthy - see Jayson Blair from a couple years ago - but I do believe over time certain skills are developed in the profession. Of course, this goes for most professions.

In some ways it comes down to a healthy dose of skepticism and discernment. Two traits that most humans feel they possess.

5 years old, eh? What a great age to develop team loyalty. My brother in law is one who believes in "all things Yawkey" :) And thats about the age my grandpa taught me the phrase - those damn Yankees :)

Rhea said...

Here in Boston, Mass., there is a new newspaper called Boston Now, which actually invites bloggers to write items for the paper. They print all kinds of stuff and everything from a blog is labeled as such. These items run along the staff-written news stories. It's great. The chain is going national pretty soon.

BobG said...

Thats such a keen idea, Rhea - I'll need to check it out!