Posted on February 1, 2008 by Roxanne Darling
This is an ongoing discussion, and @astrout, one of the people I follow on Twitter, is putting together a summary of this debate. Please read his post (I’ll update this one with a link after it’s published (link has expired) next week) for the full monty! No links here as this is a Rox Opinion Piece.
While I understand that people really like to frame discussions in the “either-or” mode, I am almost always going to see them as “either-and.” Here’s the general perspective I have on journalists and bloggers.
* Journalists have training that is relatively unique to them, and at the least, there are entire academic curricula defining the rules of engagement.
* They have access to key people and places that is cultivated over the years both by personal means and by being a member of certain clubs. (The journalists club, the employee of ___News Co club, the pool reporters club, etc.)
* Because of where they are published (an established, already vetted, news source) they have implied credibility of the mainstream and traditional kind.
* And this presumed authority also allows them to get away with using the term “anonymous sources” and still maintain a level of cred. Let’s call this cred by association.
* This credibility is generally challenged remotely, in broad sweeping terms, by people who are promoting a different agenda aka a different news business entity. The battle of the corporate titans.
* They get paychecks, some of them “obscene” (as told to me directly by more than one leading TV news personalities).
* These paychecks are an incentive to get out a story, not necessarily find the most accurate or well-rounded story. Let’s say “the man” is their ultimate master.
* Have more interest and passion in their topic than formal training in many cases.
* Have less access to people in power on average but more access to the opinions on the street precisely because they are having conversations there. And they hang out there.
* Because of where they are published (an independent media source online) they have to first build credibility by creating an audience, then sustain it.
* Most credible bloggers will cite their posts with numerous, verifiable sources. This is called link love and it bears so much influence and good will. (I am resisting the urge to go find links to support each of my points, but I am in a hurry to draft my next blog post and I am trusting Aaron Strout.)
* Their all-volunteer army err I mean audience either confirms the experience or disputes it. And it happens right there on the blog post, back and forth, in real time.
* Most bloggers do it for love not money.
* That independence gives them freedom to explore the farther reaches of the truth, and the audience becomes the ultimate master.
IMO the audience is not always right, so just as paid journalists are vulnerable to the man’s paycheck, so are bloggers vulnerable to inflaming the story to whip up the passions of their fans. At the end of the day, each is contributing something of value the other doesn’t have and the only thing that isn’t happening that much yet is a mutual respect for the work each does.
As more and more people understand the power of word-of-mouth communication, I suspect we will see bloggers continue to rise as being sources of influence and information. IMO, neither bloggers nor journalists have a lock on the truth, as the truth is a very personal and complex thing.