Wednesday, August 11, 2004

More on that conversation:
If you haven't read any of the letters to Poynter that resulted from my Sunday Herald column, it's worth a look. Some interesting stuff coming out there.
The first sally was from Dan Mitchell, who asked if anyone could give him an example of any blog breaking a news story, and said:
    ...But blogging generally is in no way a replacement for reportage. If
    bloggers somehow were able to have the time, money, and resources it would take to do real journalism, I would welcome it.
    ...Do 'the people" have the resources of the Washington Post? Do they have the Graham family's money and lawyers on their side? Do they have the wisdom and experience of someone like Ben Bradlee supporting them? Do they have a battery of editors questioning their work at every turn, making sure they get it right? Do they have the ability to spend 10 hours a day over many months doing nothing but working on a single story? And even if they have all that, do they have the hard-won reputation of an outfit like the Washington Post behind their story, so that when it's published, it's believed by most of the people who read it?

Several letter writers answer with good examples of news that's been broken in blogs or other Websites.
But the best letter so far, I think, is in this one from Michael Cader, who says:
    I usually stay away from the endless blog vs. journalism discussions because while "traditional" journalists like to argue about whether or not blogs matter, out there in the real world blogs grow and gain influence among readers who don't really care about the fine points of such arguments.
    ...Working journalists can tell each other whatever stories they like about how blogs don't matter, and don't merit their attention. And sure, there are a lot of blogs that are mostly personal expression or venues for opinion. There are even plenty of blogs that mostly aggregate and comment on reports from elsewhere -- just as there are plenty of newspapers that mostly rip copy from the wires and print press releases!

I'm so glad to see this discussion moving along. I'm one who doesn't bother to read most of the stories about journalism and blogging, because it's like political opinion these days: you're on one side or the other. But I do agree with both these gentlemen.
There's no question newspapers do great journalism, in fact that was one of my points. But where do they get their information? 'Woodstein' got a lot of it by spending hours cajoling information from scared secretaries. What if those secretaries had their own blogs, or told a friend with a blog? What if the reporter got a tip that the information was already out there? How much faster would it get in the papers?
I used that 'the people' cliche for a reason....because it's all of us that make the news and bring it to light. The media organization that encourages those that know the story to tell it is the one that will succeed. And that's exactly what Bob and Carl did in 1972. And it was the Post that let them do that.


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