Friday, November 21, 2003
Bloggers As Independent News Reporters
The time of the independent news reporters is here indeed.
While the majority of bloggers may have fallen in love too much with their narcissistic pleasure for light commentary, personal notes and sharing of half-developed ideas in what many believe to be an "open conversation", the more attentive and diligent ones among them have started to realize that having a great content management system like a blog does not require anyone to publish and standardize herself to the above described editorial trends.
In this light it appears only as an inevitable consequence that those who are wilful enough to approach news gathering, filtering and selecting in effective and non-time consuming approaches will soon be creating mini-news sites highly focussed on their personal areas of interest.
While no one is really sure where this is all heading, my hunch is that blogging represents Ground Zero of the personal Webcasting revolution. Weblogging will drive a powerful new form of amateur journalism as millions of Net users -- young people especially -- take on the role of columnist, reporter, analyst and publisher while fashioning their own personal broadcasting networks.
Source: Blogging as a Form of Journalism
As a matter of fact this is already happening in a number of places, though the overall trends remains one of replicating the classical weblog structure, with chronological posts in reverse order on the home page and an overall serendipitous approach to mix new reporting, personal notes, reviews and rants.
The interesting aspect of the emergence of many small independent news reporters is the vast disruptive effects this will have on our approach of gathering and evaluating news. Since independent news reporters will also focus on events, breaking world news, politics, economics and finance, they will be able to create truly effective and possibly valuable alternatives to some of the long established media moguls.
Though at first sight it may appear that small independent reporters could not have the reach, responsiveness and credibility of major media news outlets, the opposite is actually true and these are some of the reasons why:
1) Independent news reporters are more credible because they operate in a specific niche which they have personally chosen. They are not generic journalists that can be assigned to any story. Independent news reporters are generally very qualified in their areas of expertise.
2) Independents have a large network of direct contacts in their areas of expertise and they leverage it continuously to test information, products, and to find out before the official media channels what is happening elsewhere.
3) Bloggers as independent journalists have more interest in reporting unfiltered news which may allow unheard, hard-to-find and frequently censored point of views to reach their audiences.
4) Independent reporters enjoy much greater immediacy in their publishing workflow and are not subjects to continuous cycles of editorial revisions and approval. While this may cause some of their content to be less refined than one coming out of mainstream media the unbalance is strongly offset by the much greater immediacy and credibility of their news.
5) Independent reporters are not generally influenced in their reporting by the advertising budgets of sponsoring customers. Blogging reporters prefer to maintain editorial integrity rather than publish or censor news items they believe to be of value.
6) Independent reporters are much harder to bribe as they know that what is at stake is their lifetime reputation in being known as reliable journalists, something much harder to find in mainstream media where many companies cover journalists of presents and gifts to get her attention directed where needed.
7) Independent news reporters are open to commentary and feedback from their readers, and often utilize this input as an additional source of news information for their work.
8) News bloggers have a self-informing and self-correcting system built into it as they are part of news publishing universe in which everyone is nicely checking everyone else. If I publish a news item that contains errors, misleading information or a blatant mistake I don't need to wait very long before comments, emails and trackbacks make me aware of what I have done.
9) Professional news bloggers are easy to reach and contact, unlike most professional counterparts in the mainstream media. Readers can contact them to ask supplemental references and to alert them of breaking news stories in areas of their interest. Something I am definitely not able to do with the mainstream journalists I normally read.
10) In some cases (the better ones) Weblogs and their authors express a strong sentiment of extended independence from large established institutions and traditional media, attracting many readers that have grown tired of the excessive one world view and business priorities governing most major mainstream news media. In this light they are able also to count on the growing interest from the young as well as from those who have long been wishing to hear alternative voices to the ones gratuitously presented by television.
11) News bloggers are passionate, curious and committed to bring their news out. "Best news blogs offer a personal prism that combines pointers to trusted sources of information with a subjective, passion-based journalism. If nothing else, Weblogs are about personal publishing -- people sharing what's in their gut and backing it up with facts or persuasion."
"It's the role of institutional media to act as gatekeepers," he says, "but what you have in print publishing today is a consolidation that's inimical to the diversity that exists in everyday life. With the rise of the Internet, people don't need to be bounded by those traditional filters anymore."
Source: Paul Andrews on Blogging as a Form of Journalism
As a matter of fact independent news reporters may become so good and so qualified that they will increasingly be a source of information that traditional media will rely on.
This is in exact opposition to the position taken by John Dvorak [http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,4149,1382914,00.asp], but I think Robin Good is correct. There are a lot of cases where we can assess a reporter on the basis of what that person writes -- good or bad. Blogs are no different; if I have some expertise, I can probably tell when someone else is flannel-mouthing.
I think the general decline in "public credibility" makes this article a dart in the heart of the targetted part. Independent and *trusted* reporters will increasingly become valuable polestars for navigating the crowded channels of modern life.
Not only will the journalist type bloggers "increasingly be a source of information that traditional media will rely on", they will actually for all intents and purposes take the place of the traditional media.
I see a future where news is no longer provided exclusively by "the media" but where many prefer to get their news directly through a network of journalist bloggers.
With advertising revenue being a likely way to finance such activity, we also have a perfect system of "checks and balances" on the quality of the reporting.
The best will emerge at the top but there will also be constant competition for that "sunny spot".