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Defending the blogosphere

I started writing a response to this narrow-minded article in the National Post the other day, but was too distracted, apathetic (and confused) to finish it.

The article is another manifestation of the big media 'blog backlash'. In the last few months the general public has become more aware of the blogosphere. During the US political conventions, bloggers were given reporter's credentials and the mainstream media (MSM) aired a number of, "Look! Bloggers! Aren't they cute?" stories. They could afford to look down on these 'pretend journalists' with their little web sites -- they still had control of the agenda. The National Post even created a 'Blogger's corner' where they reprinted some material from these unimportant hacks (without paying them, of course).

But then the CBS forged documents scandal was revealed by bloggers, and people started noticing the fast turn-around time and research capabilities of this new medium. Its distributed nature allows thousands of people working independently to chase down every different angle on a story faster and more accurately than a 'professional' news organization. Lots of useless information and dead-ends are created in this process, but the iterative connectivity of the blogosphere automatically brings the most important facts the greatest attention -- and all without an editor. More news junkies have started tuning in to the new medium and some in the news business are starting to feel a little threatened.

I meant to fisk the article properly, but Theresa Zolner of Heart of Canada beat me to it. I'd do it again anyways, but I'm too unmotivated, disconnected and overwhelmed to bother. Go read what she has to say. There's some good comments as well.


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Looks to me like you did a pretty good fisking anyway, at least of the larger issue. I liked your phrase "the interative connectivity of the blogosphere," and I totally agree with what you've said.

BTW, that phrase at the top of your blog today ("a mind is a terrible thing to misplace") caused me to laugh right out loud!

Bloggers can be fine fact-checkers and editors, but they are much better at tearing a story apart than they are at putting one together. They're good at propagating news, but not at reporting it.
The relationship between blogs and "old media" isn't an either/or situation or a fight to the death. It's pretty symbiotic actually. Blogs are making mainstream journalists work hard and write better. At the same time, blogs need the mainstream media to exist. Bloggers have never broken a big story; they've only broken them down.
So, no, I'm not feeling threatened by bloggers. I'm a fan and get most of my news through blogs, actually. And I was a blogger well before I joined a "professional media organization." My article as a reaction to recent hysterical blog hype, which you must agree has been a little overblown (mostly by MSM, I'd say).

Well. Thanks for dropping by.

The reason I was annoyed by your article was its dismissive tone and factual inaccuracies. I really don't have time to go through all the points, but the whole impression your article gives is that bloggers are vain, blinkered, obnoxious losers. You're entitled to your opinion of course, but I think you're wrong.

I also think you're wrong in your assertion that blogs can't accomplish anything constructive. I'm a dedicated believer in the power of self-organizing systems. I think we're just starting to see the possibilities of this new medium. General news blogs quickly post on what people are talking about, specialist blogs for all sorts of different topics, and more people who are not bloggers are reading and contributing. These people are those that are most interested in the news -- the core audience of the MSM -- and they're changing their newsreading habits.

But hey, I'm just a blogger. I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I like your idea about self-organizing systems and the blogosphere. I agree with you that we haven't begun to see the full potential of blogs but that we've certainly seen a glimmer. I think you know exactly what you're talking about.

I think you know exactly what you're talking about.
Wow! I don't think anyone's ever said that about me before. :)


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