Monday, October 27, 2008

Blogging is the Microwave Oven to Journalism's Oven

As a person who works to represent the customer point-of-view in advertising, I have celebrated the entry of the weblog as the advent of the voice of the consumer becoming an active part of much larger conversations. I lauded the "little guy" having an 'equal' chance to voice his or her opinion along with those "big guys" who have controlled the conversation in the media for centuries.

However, as a graduate of a journalism school, I concurrently (there's a big-word-- thanks for the journalism education, Mom!) wondered whether or not the new flux of ideas would crowd out the trusted and extraordinarily well-trained voices that had been accurately and evenly reporting to the nation for centuries.

At its smallest, blogging allows for the free expression of an individual's thoughts and feelings with self and others. At its largest, it allows for a discourse of ideas that have potential to create critical mass around items that never might have had an opportunity to surface otherwise. Over the past years, blogging has lived up to its largest potential, and is now considered a force to be rekoned with instead of dismissed. The "Dan Rather Incident" and other canary-in-the-cave moments brought blogs credibility as investigative whistle-blowers, quicker to the punch than mainstream media news. Now, extremely popular news blogs like Huffington Post are ready by about 4 million Americans a month, and thereby are considered practically mainstream media news. These developments have brought many to a point of asking: is blogging the new news?

(And if it is, does that make Tweeting the new blogging, or vlogging is the new blogging, or...)

Andrew Sullivan is a true pioneer of blogging, and he's still one of the best. He traded in the moment-by-moment commentary of the blog recently to analyze blogging in long form, in "Why I Blog," a piece that is part of The Atlantic magazine this month.

In this incredibly thoughtful piece, Sullivan debunks some popular myths about blogging. And then, he shows why blogging is complementary to-- and even enhances, traditional journalism. (He does this through the avenue of a traditional journalism piece-- using the writing process of the magazine article to draw his points about differences between the written piece and a digital blog.)

I'm now convinced that the analogy of blogging to traditional journalism is like microwave to traditional oven -- both standard in every kitchen and complimentary to one another. I think you will be, too, if you read the brilliant article by Sullivan:

http://www.blogger.com/www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/andrew-sullivan-why-i-blog

3 comments:

Jim C. said...

"Andrew Sullivan is a true pioneer of blogging, and he's still one of the best."

This is satire, right? I mean, this guy is calling for DNA tests to prove whether Trig Palin is really the son Governor Palin of Bristol.

"the trusted and extraordinarily well-trained voices that had been accurately and evenly reporting to the nation for centuries."

Okay, this MUST be satire. Your average reader has long known that the media screws things up when they write something about the reader knows well. What everyone is beginning to realize is that EVERYONE ELSE has that same experience.

As to conventional oven vs. microwave, other than that they're complementary (not complimentary), it's not a very good metaphor.

It's more a quality-control thing. The media leaves out relevant points, and bloggers restore them.

I think that the best contribution blogging makes is the unofficial motto: "We can fact-check your ass." And even with the media's vaunted layers of editors and fact-checkers, this is desparately needed.

Funny you should mention HuffPo. Mary Mapes, the partner of Dan Rather in Rathergate, is posting there now. Being popular is not the same as being factual.

Dave said...

Pretty funny.

"the trusted and extraordinarily well-trained voices that had been accurately and evenly reporting to the nation for centuries."

As a devoted fan of Mike Royko and others of that generation, I can only imagine him laughing in reporter Heaven. "Well-trained" (as in j-school) "voices" would bring gales of laughter by itself. J-school gets in the way of reporting, as can be seen by any discerning reader.

Where, today, is that Royko advice, "if your mother says she loves you, check it out."? 'Reporting' today by "trusted and extraordinarily well-trained voices" (and, boy, I hope you didn't strain anything patting yourself on the back) amounts mostly to spin and opinion.

Enjoy the legacy media experience while you can. Perhaps when the collapsed is total the "well-trained voices" can find work in advertising or some such.

kcom said...

"Enjoy the legacy media experience while you can. Perhaps when the collapsed is total the "well-trained voices" can find work in advertising or some such."

The trouble is, Dave, many of them already have. Because what they are doing is not reporting but rather advertising for their favorite candidate or favorite point of view.