Virginia Postrel wrote a couple of weeks back in Forbes.com:
Something about blogs makes a lot of respectable journalists hyperventilate. News pros seem terribly threatened by online amateurs.Blogging is a “solipsistic, self-aggrandizing, journalist-wannabe genre,” writes David Shaw in the Los Angeles Times.
And hits the nail on the head by pointing out that blogging is a format, not a genre.
Generalizing about blogs is like generalizing about books. A blog is simply a Web page whose author adds new content, or posts, over time. Blogging is a format, not a genre.
There are blogs devoted to knitting, to the Boston Red Sox, to biochemistry, to Macintosh computers, to art criticism, to movies, to California politics, to space exploration, to dandyism--to any subject, in other words, that someone somewhere has some interest in. About the only thing blogs have in common is that their posts are arranged chronologically.
We have been saying this for some time. Blogs are a tool, versatile because of their format that leads to interconnectedness. The entire argument of blogging vs journalism is a false one and has been had in the US a couple of years back. As the waves of new ‘bloggers’, i.e. people who noticed blogging just now and either jumped on the bandwagon or have an axe to grind, this issue gets revisited ad nauseam. Especially in the UK, where most people whose profession brings them in contact with blogs, seem to have some aversion to googling and finding out what’s going on in the US blogosphere, so far ahead of most countries.
The reason I am dragging this old (in the blogosphere terms) article is that Guardian’s John Naughton wrote a good piece yesterday about the argument (in which he does not link to Virginia’s article anywhere). He has his experience to share:
And it isn’t just professional hacks who editorialise like this. Non-journalists who are dismissive of blogs behave similarly - and in my experience those who are most critical have rarely actually seen any blogs, and certainly have not read any serious ones. But in truth the view that ‘all blogs are x’ (where x = ‘self-indulgent’, ‘vanity publishing’, ‘solipsistic’ or whatever other term of abuse comes to mind) is as absurd as the view that ‘all books are x’ or ‘all newspapers are x’.
It is a pleasure to read such lucid and informed points, cutting straight through the knot of the pseudo-debate:
What’s happening is a small but significant change in our media ecology. All journalists worth their salt have always known that out there are readers, listeners or viewers who know more about a story than they do. But until recently, there was no effective way for this erudition or scepticism to find public expression. Letters to the editor rarely attract public attention - or impinge on the consciousness of journalists.
Blogging changes all that. Ignorant, biased or lazy journalism is instantly exposed, dissected and flayed in a medium that has global reach. (If you doubt that, ask Dan Rather and CBS.)
Conversely, good reporting and intelligent commentary is passed from blog to blog and spreads like wildfire beyond the jurisdiction in which it was originally published. This can only be good for journalism in the long run, if only because, as my mother used to say, sunlight is the best disinfectant.
More articles on the topic: Don’t fear the blogger (a must read)
Defender of The Wild-Eyed Pamphleteers
Bloggers Need A Shield Law to Protect Us From Legacy Media Inanity
Laying the Newspaper Gently Down to Die