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Blogging and its Contributions to Media

November 30, 2007

Blogging permeates daily life for people throughout the world. For me the in-class experience was my first confrontation with blogging. Blogging is a new and different form of media, in sharp contrast to more established elements of media such as investigative journalism, or broadcast journalism. Working for CNN or the New York Times requires different tools and skills than blogging. Blogging may at first appear to be less of an art form and more of a forum for ridiculous emotion and absurd revenge as described by Michael Skube in Blogs: All the Noise That Fits, “The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disruption, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.” (Skube, 1) However, upon closer inspection blogging proves itself to be a useful form of journalistic endeavor.

Placing one’s thoughts onto the internet is a scary process. Thousands of random people now have access to one’s personal opinions and inner musings. When James Kotecki spoke to our Dissident Media class in September, he mentioned one of the difficulties of blogging was adjusting to some individual’s angry and often cruel comments. Our blog was largely limited to other student’s comments, thus mean and hurtful comments were rare or nonexistent. Despite this, it was still difficult putting our opinions out in the open, where, at least in theory, anyone can read our thoughts.

Though it was difficult to place our personal thoughts on the internet, it was a great learning experience, especially in journalistic terms. The live blog provided an introduction into real reporting. The majority of our blogs were based off reflections on others’ reportings, findings, or stories but the live blog allowed us to write our own article.

Though I enjoyed the blogging experience there are some disadvantages to blogging. In an article entitled What Bloggers Can Learn from Journalists, Steve Outing discusses some of the assets journalists have that bloggers could learn. For example, an editor is a key link in the journalistic process. The majority of blogs available on the internet lack the editorial polish. “The principal difference between traditional journalists and the vast majority of bloggers is: an editor. The lack of one is one of the charms of blogging of course… its fast; its creative; its different from mainstream journalism. But having an editor involved… is a brilliant idea, even for solo bloggers.” (Outing, 1) In our class, there was no editor. The lack of editorial help created an interesting paradox; while our thoughts and opinions were laid bare on the internet without gloss, there were often simple grammatical and spelling errors. Though grammatical and spelling errors are not the central point of a blog, without their presence a blog appears considerably more professional. As Outing states, “An extra pair of eyes can certainly help catch spelling, grammar, and factual errors…” (Outing, 1) If ours and other blogs learn to utilize editors, if only to add that editorial polish, the blog could appear significantly more professional.

Another disadvantage to blogging is the lack of professional in many blogs. While some blogs such as Wonkette appear very professional, many amateur blogs are written by individuals who simply want to make some noise no matter whether their writing is true, untrue, moral, or immoral. Often one has to dig through substantial amounts of garbage in order find some gold where blogs are concerned. This weakness however may just be a result of the internet’s pervasiveness.

Though blogs often lack a sense of professionalism, there are many advantages to blogs. In Outing’s article What Journalists Can Learn from Bloggers he quotes the author of Wonkette, “It’s impossible to maintain privileged information in an environment where anyone can instantly publish leaked information to a potential worldwide audience on the Web.” (Outing, 2) This quote demonstrates the impossibility of hiding information in today’s information-loaded world. In Jay Rosen’s article in the L.A Times, The Journalism That Bloggers Actually Do, he notes several cases where journalists have either broken or continued to follow a story till the end. An excellent example given is Firedoglake in March 2007 covering the Scooter Libby scandal, “Popular lefty political blog provides the only blow-by-blow coverage of the trial by splitting the work among six contributors who bring big knowledge to bear for a committed-to-the-case readership. Reporters come to rely on the blog for its updates and its accuracy in live-blogging and analysis.” (Rosen, 1) Again, this quote demonstrates not only the impossibility of hiding information in today’s world; it also demonstrates the role bloggers are playing in pushing news to the fore-front.

Another advantage to blogging is its ability to create a new ‘marketplace of ideas.’ Blogging provides an opportunity for many underprivileged people to express their ideas to the world. Like town halls in previous times, the internet is now a place for millions of people to share their thoughts and ideas, for debates to take place.

Blogs also have a connection to Stephen D. Brookfield’s article The Power of Critical Theory. Many bloggers goals involve challenging idealogy, contesting hegemony and unmasking power. (Brookfield, 40) By breaking stories which may otherwise have remained hidden bloggers incorporate all of these tasks. They unmask the power of those attempting to hide the story by breaking it. Many challenge ideology by presenting dissenting views, and many contest hegemony bys simply putting their opinions out in the public forum.

Though blogging has several serious disadvantages, blogging is still a crucial form of media. It has allowed millions of people to communicate with one another all across the globe. The blogosphere has created a modern-day ‘marketplace of ideas.’ Blogging has allowed countless amateur journalists to grow and break important stories that may otherwise have not been told. It may sometimes take some searching, but the good blogs that can be uncovered are certainly worth the search.

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