I think the DNC could turn into a key moment in the discussion about bloggers versus journalists. I've generally been rather low-key on this issue, taking a position that bloggers and mass media should work together and that bloggers and professional journalists had different strengths and weaknesses. I am getting a sense that an increasing number of professional journalists are beginning to feel threatened or at least seem to be trying to belittle bloggers as a source of news.
Jeff Jarvis addresses this question today by quoting Tom Rosenstiel on the question, what is a journalist?
Under this definition, a lot of what we are calling media or press is not journalism and I DARE any professional journalist to try to defend any big media company of sticking to the definition above without fail.Tom Rosenstiel - Boston Globe
- A journalist tries to tell the literal truth and get the facts right, does not pass along rumors, engages in verifying, and makes that verification process as transparent as possible.
- A journalist's goal is to inspire public discussion, not to help one side win or lose. One who tries to do the latter is an activist.
- Neutrality is not a core principle of journalism. But the commitment to facts, to public consideration, and to independence from faction, is.
- A journalist's loyalty to his or her audience, even above employer, is paramount.
I've been interviewing a lot of professional journalists about "What is journalism? What makes a good journalist?" They usually talk about vetting sources, portraying things accurately, and other things that any blogger who is used to being ripped to shreds in comments by their readers on their blog do as second nature. My conclusion is that much of good journalism is just common sense, and I would even assert that compared to journalists who don't write in their name, have fact-check desks to do their fact-checking and editors to fix their grammar, bloggers are much more accountable and have to take it in the face compared to their anonymous counterparts in the mass media.
Is mass media more rigorous than blogs? Remember the "Rumsfeld bans phone cameras" story that UPI and AFP ran and all the media picked up? Xeni at Boing Boing called the defense department and debunked the story and I updated my entry as a lot of the mass media were still going to press with the story. Did they print any corrections? I didn't see any. And this isn't an isolated incident. I've seen many cases where blogs have fact-checked and vetted stories that the media have just passed over.
I'm not blaming the mass media for their lack of ability be as nibble as blogs, but characterizing bloggers as a bunch of amateurs with no news value is really silly. Particularly annoying are the articles that seem to be picking a fight with the blogs. Maybe as Mahatma Ghandi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Dan, maybe you and "We the Media" better get over here before the real fighting starts.
As always, I like David Weinberger's. perspective on this.
David WeinbergerFor example, after the breakfast, the bloggers were swarmed by the media. "You know one difference between you and us," said a friendly guy from NPR, "We don't applaud for the speakers." But, heck, it was Howard Dean and I'll be damned if I'm not going to stand and clap for him.