Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another journalist bemoans blogging

I've seen several pieces along this line:

BEIJING — The unofficial end to journalism as I know it may have come earlier this week, when my Globe and Mail sporty colleague Matt Sekeres and I were at the triathlon venue in the north end of the city, waiting for the event to start.


The race was about an hour away when young Mr. Sekeres said the five words I have most come to dread: "I'm going to blog this."

Let me first say that I think such pieces are mostly crap. Mostly.

That said, the most charitable thing I can say about the effect of blogging on journalism is.... it's not having one, not really, contra to what Ms. Blatchford is saying.

Look, blogging is a tool. The internet is a tool. If either of them cause the death of journalism (or of longer forms of writing, or anything else), it's because people chose to use them in ways that are/were detrimental to past journalistic practices.

Clearly blogging can augment and enhance traditional journalism; just as clearly, traditional journalism (especially newspapers) were suffering before the Rise of Blogs. Pieces like this one are often really about journalists upset about their own loss of privilege and prestige. For example:

It is not true that anyone can write. It is not true that anyone can write on deadline. It is not true that anyone can do an interview. It is not true that anyone can edit themselves and sort wheat from chaff.

Implicit in this is that writing/news production should be left only to professionals, and that we, the riff-raff, have no place in such an enterprise. I call bullshit; ten seconds on this site should convince you that the media is not perfect, and that sometimes, the great unwashed masses can correct the professionals.

(As an aside, there are a lot of things floating around now that are easily accessible that, when measured against traditional standards, are not that good. However, the fact that I can blog, and that a few of my friends can read it, means a hell of a lot to me. Anyway.)

I guess what I'd say - in addition to noting that journalists and journalism would be better off as populists rather than elitists - is that Ms. Blatchford paints with far too broad a brush here. She would get a lot more mileage if she bothered to be more specific about exactly how journalism is hurt by blogging, while simultaneously acknowledging that blogging can have a positive influence on the act of journalism, and b) that journalism - and even newswriting specifically - is suffering from a lot more than the appearance of blogs. As is, she's written a nice tantrum, but there's nothing new or compelling here.

h/t TG


Tim said...

This was the most eloquent piece I'd seen on the topic and you have responded nicely. I agree with you and especially your "aside".

I find that I read more "news" because I read blogs. I'd say in my case bloggers steer me into the mainstream more than take me out of it. I'd never read Herring if you didn't comment on his "editorials".


Dennis said...

With a few exceptions, I never read an entire newspaper. I certainly don't have time to scour dozens of newspapers, but a quick check of a few blogs will direct me to news stories I almost always find relevant.

So yeah, blogs drive me to mainstream papers as well by serving as an interest-based filter. I'd never thought about it in quite this way before.

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