Bloggers v Journalists redux

Mick was speaking at a lively event organised by Westminster Skeptics in the Pub last night, and I tagged along. Dave Cole has given a good detailed account of it here. The question was supposed to be ‘What difference does political blogs really make?’ but because everyone was there for a boozy night rather than a seminar, and because Nick Cohen (surely the most argumentative man in London) was the ringmaster, it rapidly turned into an opposition between diligent paid-for journalism and irresponsible narcissistic blogging. Whatever else, it was an entertaining night.

For me, the bloggers v journalists question is about as relevant as the one about ‘who would win a fight between a tiger and a shark?’ But there’s a couple of assertions that I’d make that I think could cast the whole question in a different light:

Newspapers often have really good articles by knowledgeable writers who are writing for their audience and not themselves. They have to write to a readable length, check their facts, make issues understandable and keep up their reputation for fair dealing. As long as you monitor a few relevant titles, you can keep yourself informed and challenged on most of the issues you need to know about in order to be a good citizen who votes and gets involved in public life.

Some of you are more sceptical than others about how good newspaper journalism is, but I suspect most people would agree with that – up to a point?

Now here’s my second assertion:
Though newspapers cover big issues reasonably well, on almost every subject that they cover (and plenty that they don’t) there is – somewhere – likely to be a better article written by a blogger than anything you can find in a newspaper. The problem is simply how you find it.

There’s not a perfect solution the the question of finding everything that is worth reading. But personally, I find that Google Reader really helps.

We’re thinking of embedding a Google Reader feed in the new site when it goes live shortly. You can already follow Mick (just search for Mick Fealty once you’ve registered and let us know your address in the comments field below so Mick can follow you back). If we can build up a healthy tree of people who are following each other and ‘sharing’ everything any good stuff that they find, we should be able to really improve the recommended links that the site is making and bring Slugger’s readers a better overview of what the blogs and the mainstream media are saying elsewhere.

Also, a quick tip: If you already use Google Reader, and you have a iPhone, the Mobile RSS app makes it really easy to read and share what you read.

Update: Here’s a good post by Mark Reckons.