Bloggers and Journos: friends or enemies?

In the indispensable media section of yesterday’s Observer Rafael Behr notes that there is a tendency amongst some mainstream journalists to want bloggers to shut up believing that professional journalism alone is the only legitimate watchdog of power. The failed LA Times wikitorial experiment in last week was simply the latest skirmish in the cold war between big US journalism and its blogosphere. The description will be familiar to regular readers of the comments here at Slugger:

What would happen if a newspaper invited readers to an editorial conference down the pub? First to arrive would be fans of the paper, keen to get involved. Next would be curious bystanders, drawn by the heat of debate. Last would be the drunken idiots, ranting and swearing incoherently until they were escorted from the premises. At closing time the newspaper would be left with no editorial – and a lot of spilt beer to wipe up.

That is pretty much what happened when the LA Times last week opened up its editorial comment on Iraq to public amendment online. It was called a wikitorial, from ‘wiki’ – originally Hawaiian for ‘quickly’, now internetese for a page that can be edited by allcomers. It is one of the many innovations that old media see happening, know is important, but don’t know why.

In France however, there is a much greater consonance between bloggers and journalism:

‘Au blog, citoyens’, screamed the front page of leftwing daily Libération, echoing the call to arms in the ‘Marseillaise’. Inside, the newspaper devoted a double-page spread to the story of Christophe Grébert, a blogger from the small town of Puteaux who used his site, monputeaux.com, to report on the politics of the local town hall. He is being pursued by the mayor for defamation, a development that guarantees him worldwide internet martyrdom.

Along with a celebration of citizen blogs around the country, Libération hinted its support for Grébert in an editorial comment. ‘The law should certainly punish malevolent rumour, defamation and intimidation,’ the newspaper said. ‘But it is more important still that the law is not subverted by those who want to limit the field of free speech and fair comment. Blogs can be a powerful tool in the service of democracy.’

  • jamie mccoy

    medis is developing all the time and as for the press not wanting blogs where would media really be. after all a couple of my blogs the press have written about and used my own words

  • Snafu

    I suspect bloggers are the historical equivalent of pamphleteers in the 1700s who spread rumours and gossip.

  • Aine

    All bloggers are not the same; they aren’t a homogeneous group to be compared to paid journalists. There are, however, those people who -DO- journalism, both paid and unpaid, as journalists and bloggers. The issue of pay leading to the perceived status of credibility and credentials was soundly slapped around in the Jeff Gannon affair. And Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” boldly illustrates the Mainstream Media’s lack of credibility on an almost daily basis.

    “Doing Journalism” has no inherent requirement that a person must be employed by a corporate media outlet. It’s an activity, one that can be self-taught… and often, those who are self-taught tend to outshine their corporate peers, as they aren’t censored or driven off of a story due to corporate interests or political ties.

    Since U.S. media has proven, again and again, that they cannot be counted on to report the actual news, and instead substitute pabulum and video news releases slanted toward the current administration’s political agenda, citizen journalist-bloggers provide a valuable service in disputing and debunking the reports by our Mainstream Media outlets.

    Advertisers who wish to align themselves with truth and credibility would do well to put their money in bloggers’ hands and help to support this effort.

  • aquifer

    Its time to end the priviledged tax position of newspapers, dating back to the time when they were the only way to get an alternative political view. The ability to collect advertising revenues while avoiding VAT on newsprint gives us bloated single constituency rags and bulging wastepaper bins.

    Lets make news and analysis the competitive element, not the size of a complacent readership.

    The first step in waste management is reduce, the second re-use, and the third recycle.

    Applying these to editorial means shrink it. Re-use: leave newspaper racks in public places to leave newspapers once you have finished with them to allow others to share a good one.
    Re-cycle: Put the flabby disappointing ones in the recycling bins.