Bloggers vs Journalists or the Best of Both Worlds?
We know blogging is a very powerful tool, and I have lived with this realization since the Tsunamis struck. But power without restraint, responsibility and maturity can be really really dangerous. There is a case for more responsibility and ethics for bloggers - bloggers have been known to pass sentences in mob justice.Darryl D'Monte one of our more respected journalists asks, are bloggers parked:
"When does a writer become a blogger? This is a question that is familiar to anyone who uses a keyboard these days, but the obverse question isn't as familiar: when does a blogger become a writer? At a recent workshop on effective writing on the web, organized by The New Media initiative of the Mumbai-based Comet Media Foundation, the inveterate blogger, Dina Mehta, asked this latter question bluntly, and implied in response that there is no difference between the two. Many old media hands and creative writers, however, begged to differ.
"....... At the same time, it is true that with the mainstream media dumbing down with a vengeance and looking to their bottom line rather than people who live at the bottom, bloggers are very much in business. They are telling it like it is, rather than what media barons decide is politically or commercially more convenient. In the US, the war in Iraq is condemned far more pungently in blogs. But blogs aren't about to destroy conventional media anytime soon"
When asked, I always say I am not a journalist, I am a blogger. There are rubs - professional bloggers increasingly want to make some money off blogging. Still, the long tail of blogging remains quite personal for most bloggers, with the exception of a few. Then, there are more and more journalists who are becoming good bloggers - I think it helps them at what they do.
Yet, there is a distinction in my mind - blog media is about rub points and conversations, it is about writing out loud and learning, it is about reporting in real voices in real time. Blog media can be individual or group perspectives, most tend to be independent voices, the only community that is formed is in the links, whereas MSM is about reporting on facts or interviews within the context of a newspaper or station or media empire.
I'd love to hear you views on these issues, not just in preparation for the session, but also because these are issues we are being faced with increasingly.
Sir Harold and Sir Arthur on Citizen Journalism and Blogging
Do you think the rise of ‘Citizen Journalism’, with blogging being one element of it, represents a diminishing trust in the established media? How can news organisations go about building credibility in the eyes of readers, viewers and listeners?From an interview with Sir Harold Evans, Former Editor, the Sunday Times, London, Former Editor-in-Chief, Atlantic Monthly Press, President and Publisher, Random House, Author, of Good Times, Bad Times, voted the Editor of the Century in 2002.
Established media has lost some trust, no doubt, but I think the rise of blogging is more to do with the appetite for telling the world where to get off. Very healthy. Most of it is opinion/argument, which is fine, but there is no central organising intelligence to sustain the heart of journalism which is reporting. (And sometimes that reporting is too difficult, too urgent, to leave to one reporter). Indeed, a significant proportion of cyberspace perpetuates myth and falsehood. The absurd lie that Jews blew up the World Trade Center on 9/11 began life on the web and got endlessly recycled by the credulous, the ignorant and the malevolent. One of the tasks I would submit to mainstream media is the regular detection and exposure of cyber propaganda.
Blogs, wikis and citizen journalism are all signs of things to come.From Arise, Citizen Journalist!, by Sir Arthur C Clarke, SciFi legend, the man who predicted geostationary satellites in one of his stories, and inspired Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web with another.
This has far-reaching implications. For one thing, it allows far higher levels of interactivity and audience engagement than has been possible in newspapers, radio or television. Even more importantly, the web provides a platform for small-time companies, organisations and single individuals to disseminate ideas, analyses and viewpoints to a potentially global audience. And it can be done at a fraction of the cost of launching mainstream media outlets. While the web is not yet a level playing field and has its own limitations, it has already triggered the end of absolute power enjoyed by press barons and gatekeeper editors.
Nowhere is this breach more apparent than in the remarkably swift rise of bloggers. Their publishing of online diaries has shown how passionate individuals can command attention and influence way beyond their professional or social circles. John Naughton, a noted British chronicler of the new media, says the web has again demonstrated its capacity to unleash disruptive innovation on a complacent establishment. As he wrote in 2003, "The response of the ‘professional’ media to this explosion has been interesting. First there was patronising incredulity that people would write without being paid for it. Then there was disdain. ‘Where’, asked the hacks, ‘was the quality control?’ Surely the whole thing was just an epidemic of vanity publishing. Then there was unease, fuelled by the realisation that (a) large numbers of bloggers were talking to one another behind the media’s back, as it were, and (b) some of them knew more about many subjects than most journalists. Badly researched or ideologically skewed reporting was being instantly skewered by bloggers...."
Naughton has documented many instances where poor journalism about highly technical or complicated issues was exposed by bloggers. The Columbia space shuttle disaster was one, where half-baked journalistic theories were effortlessly demolished by bloggers with serious aerospace expertise.
The blogging community has refused to accept the news ‘agenda’ as determined by the mainstream media. As Naughton says, "This has been increasingly evident since 9/11 as the established US media have dumbed down their discussion of the issues surrounding security, civil liberties and Bush’s policy towards Iraq.It would not be much of an exaggeration to say that (with a few honourable exceptions) most of the serious discussion of these issues in the US at the moment is happening in weblogs and not in the ‘official’ mass media."
It’s too soon to tell how much and how far bloggers could act as a countervailing force for the lapses and excesses in the mainstream media not just in the US, but across the world. We can only hope that the bloggers will push the mainstream to embrace long overdue reforms to become more transparent and accountable—the very virtues that editorialists constantly preach to the world’s governments and corporations.
A collective enterprise
The model is Friedrich Hayek's classic analysis of how the economic market pools enormous quantities of information efficiently despite its decentralized character, its lack of a master coordinator or regulator, and the very limited knowledge possessed by each of its participants.Read the full piece, which examines, among other things, the perceived threat that blogs pose to the mainstream media. Posner, by and by, blogs at The Becker-Posner Blog with economist Gary Becker. It is well worth your while.
In effect, the blogosphere is a collective enterprise - not 12 million separate enterprises, but one enterprise with 12 million reporters, feature writers and editorialists, yet with almost no costs. It's as if The Associated Press or Reuters had millions of reporters, many of them experts, all working with no salary for free newspapers that carried no advertising.
The "Ethics in Blogging (2005)" survey results...
Overall, our findings show that personal and non-personal bloggers are distinctively different in their demographics, blogging experiences, and habits. Our findings also show that there are significant differences between personal and non-personal bloggers in the ethical beliefs they value and in the ethical practices they adhere to.Hm. It took a survey to come to that conclusion?
Therefore, an important point to note is that when studying the blogging population, distinctions must be made regarding the type of bloggers who are being examined to prevent any misperceptions.
In addition, the limited support from bloggers for a blogging code of ethics poses a serious problem for advocates of on-line social responsibility. If any inroads are to be made in terms of bloggers regulating themselves, consensus in the community must be developed.
Hostility in the Online Medium
"As for why people get hostile when they hear a differing opinion, I go back to Spinoza's definition of love and hatred. He says that people love that which they think reinforces their survival and hate that which they think threatens their survival. I believe - this is just my humble theory, now - that when people hear an opinion that counters theirs, their minds extrapolate from that one opinion to imagine a whole philosophical system. And then they imagine how they would fare in a world run according to that imagined system. So they go from disagreeing to feeling threatened in a matter of seconds, and they lash out. Often they write letters that begin, "You are obviously," and that's where they identify, not you, but the phantom they feel threatened by......"
Of Kaafiri and bloggers
Truth is a function, not a value
The truth is (sigh) out there
Truth in blogging
Blogs allow you to bypass editors and publish, putting the power of publishing directly in the hands of the writer. That's often a great boon. Yet consider: a good editor would have stopped conjecture where it should have been stopped. Before being published.We may decide to put up our respective thoughts on the matter on our blogs, but in the meanwhile, this statement by Richard Posner caught my eye.
Inaccuracies in blogs are less pernicious than inaccuracies in the mainstream media even apart from the superior opportunity for prompt correction of bloggers' errors. The reason is that bloggers are known not to employ fact checkers or editors; there is no pretense that they have the resources to eliminate all errors in their postings. The mainstream media, in contrast, represent to their public that they endeavor assiduously to prevent errors from finding their way into articles and broadcasts. They ask the public to repose trust in them. Bloggers do not. That is why serious errors by the mainstream media are played as scandals; they are not merely mistakes--they are breaches of trust.Link Courtesy: Ashish's Niti.
Ends, not the means
Indian Government offers Accreditation to Bloggers
On comments, and blogs
An unfettered vision of the world
The old idea of the intellectual as the one who speaks truth to power is still an idea worth holding on to. Tyrants fear the truth of books because it's a truth that's in hock to nobody, it's a single artist's unfettered vision of the world. They fear it even more because it's incomplete, because the act of reading completes it, so that the book's truth is slightly different in each reader's different inner world, and these are the true revolutions of literature, these invisible, intimate communions of strangers, these tiny revolutions inside each reader's imagination, and the enemies of the imagination, politburos, ayatollahs, all the different goon squads of gods and power, want to shut these revolutions down, and can't. Not even the author of a book can know exactly what effect his book will have, but good books do have effects, and some of these effects are powerful, and all of them, thank goodness, are impossible to predict in advance.
Literature is a loose cannon. This is a very good thing.
Akhond of Swat
Conversations with Dina
Duck of Destiny
Death Ends Fun
The Return of Fadereu
Within / Without
What the Blue Goblin Says