Thursday, April 10, 2008

"You've got to be bloggin me!"

In Web Writing class, we've been discussing blogs endlessly. Hours have been spent outlining the basics of blogging: how does blogging differ from traditional newspaper writing style (is there that much of a difference?), is the future of journalism in blogs (really?), what separates personal online diaries (my professor likes to call them "sex diaries") from quality journalism when both media are considered blogs?

I understand the fascination the media industry has with these online forums. Blogs truly do allow anyone with an internet connection to assume the role as a story-teller and share their experiences with the world. But is that really a dangerous thing?

Sure, people claim that blogs are not as creditable as, and are certainly more opinionated than, any news you would find in a print newspaper, but I do not think that ruins the fate of journalism. People are able to recognize if a blog is a legitimate source of information or not. If anything, blogs are assumed to be opinionated and simply aggregates of news drawn from other creditable sources. I almost have to be proven wrong or shown a legitimate affiliation with a creditable media outlet before I absorb any information from a blog as pure, unbiased fact.

I think it is unfortunate that many people think readers or the average person would not be able to recognize the difference between a blog and newspaper. Blogs, by definition, are just personal narratives. Newspapers have complicated things by adding blogs to areas that were otherwise off-limits to columnists.

To me, a blog is basically a column, only given the added option to be biased or fair in judgment. Some blogs do offer expert advice, almost like a online forum outfitted with expertise for a certain niche. Other blogs assume the traditional role of being just an online op-ed resource.

As newspapers move online and more multimedia is integrated into coverage, I do not think of blogs as a threat to journalism, but that is only if they are considered to extras, synonymous to sidebars or graphs.

The danger lies with the potential for readers to only subscribe to blogs and allow traditional, unbiased news reporting die out. In that instance, an average person would have to read three times the amount of news, via blogs with different perspectives, just to have a reasonably level understanding of the world; And, people already do not read the one newspaper delivered to their doorstep and plastered on their computer screen.