Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Are blogs killing traditional journalism?

Doom and gloom for journalists. Recent weeks have seen a number of stories about the demise of local papers prompted by the rise of the Internet. Last Sunday The Observer had a similar piece that asked a leading question: Who would you rather trust - the BBC or a blogger? The answer was supposed to be obvious, but reading the comment section has been enlightening. Many of us are starting to answer "bloggers of course!"

The bulk of the argument by Nick Cohen is this:

"Why, then, mourn the passing of the hack? The best reason for wanting my colleagues to survive is that serious reporters and broadcasters offer a guarantee that what they say is true. If they stray, their editors impose journalistic standards and insist on objectivity. They may not have the best or fullest story or the most vivid account, but readers should be able to assume their work is reliable, while a blogger's commitment to objectivity can never be assumed."
I don't know what newspapers is Nick Cohen reading, but this bears little resemblance to the British press as it is now. In one corner you have the tabloids, whose relationship with truth and accuracy is akin to that of a vampire and garlic. On the other end you have ideologically-driven rags whose every page is dedicated to pushing specific ideologies (e.g. Daily Mail and immigration).

Bloggers wear their biases clearly, and there is no encouragement to dumb-down a topic. Blogs written by experts are much better places to find informed opinion than a piece written by someone with little grasp of what is being talked about.

I don't think blogs will kill journalism, but they will act as a much needed supplement. In some sense, we are all journalists now, aren't we?

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