Constant speculation about the integrity of blogging has kept many journalists, including this one (until now, that is), from joining this wave of new media. Sure, some upsides can be found: there’s no downtime between finishing a story and getting it to your audience, blogs can express your personal style and opinion in both layout and content, and anyone and everyone can start one. But wait… couldn’t those all also be considered flaws of this new media form?
The speed at which news can be presented is both a blessing and a burden. Without the middle-man editor taking the time to read over and question a story, the writer may release a post that is poorly written, researched, and/or received.
“Here’s something you frequently see with bloggers that trained journalists usually avoid: Making accusations or strong criticisms without asking the target for reaction. For the sake of balance, it just makes sense to be fair and to seek the other sides of the story.” – excerpt from “What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists” by Steve Outing
That being said, bloggers have the advantage of correcting their mistake immediately while newspaper, magazine, and TV reporters have to wait for the next issue or show to be released. Nevertheless, having a second pair of eyes read over a piece is always a good idea.
Despite the potential for premature reporting, blogs do have the opportunity to break barriers. No editors means no cut stories. Newspapers and TV news stations are expected to be objective (whether they are or not is another issue), so reporters present the news as just facts, no opinion on the topic at hand. Reporters try to represent every side, include all the research, and make a story as thorough as possible every time they write. In other words, they treat each story like they only have one chance to tell it, so they better tell it right.
“Big media has to learn to be more honest,” says Jeff Jarvis, a media executive who moonlights as a blogger, “that is, to level with its public, to reveal its prejudices, and process as citizen journalists (bloggers) do.” – excerpt from “What Journalists Can Learn From Bloggers” by Steve Outing
Outing and Jarvis describe news as a conversation. It does not start and end with the publishing of one article. Instead, the release of an article should be seen as the beginning of a conversation; one that requests the reactions, input, and perspectives of its readers.
As Outing has so clearly pointed out, bloggers can learn from journalists and journalists can learn from bloggers. It is a balance between the well-researched journalistic form and the outspoken and speedy blogger that will take new media to a whole new level.
Now if only journalists and bloggers would listen.