Thursday, October 07, 2004

Blogging is not journalism

"Often blogs are as far from journalism as it is possible to get, with unsubstantiated rumour, prejudice and gossip masquerading as informed opinio." That's author Bill Thompson said is a recent article entitled: "Is Google too powerful?" Blogging is not journalism, according to the article. But the argument for blogging as journalism seemes to be, with the advent of weblogging, the readers know more than the journalists.
The article forgets to question the fact that a lot of what is written on the blog is unsubstantiated rumour, prejudice and gossip in the name of informed opinion. Bloggers don't have any editors to fix stories and make them pact with facts and accurate information. Blogger editors are nonexistent. In order to believe something in a blog you have to look at another source for accuracy. Something a journalistic editor does before stories are printed.
It's this kind of behavior Rebecca Blood opposes in Chapter 6 of her book. She insists that one has to stay away from intelelctual dishonesty and backup what you're saying with as many links as possible. When someone is reading your blog, allow them to go into another link to check to see if you're write. You have to verify what you're blogging. The article is correct, too, when it says, "the much-praised reputation mechanism that is supposed to ensure that bloggers remain true, honest and factually-correct is, in fact, just the rule of the mob, where those who shpout loudest, and get the most links are taken more seriously."
This would be like saying that the New York Times newspaper always tells the truth because four million people read it, while the Minneapolis Star-Tribune is less trustworthy because it's readership is only four million.
Bloggers could be challenged by their WikiCommunities or BloggingCommunities, but the door is wide open for sloppy reporting.
It's believed that Google will fine-tune its own news service by using bloggers as an earky-warning system for breaking stories. This is all good, but Google had better have trained journalists to sipher the contect spewing out of the amateur journalists, and make sure everything is accurate.
A direct portal without safeguards will kill Google quickly. Besides Gogle, if uncensored will be another private cog in the enfine of distrust who'll have no respect for the personal privacy of its users. Google is like a big brother watching over the people using it. It builds up a detailed profile of your search terms over many years. It refuses to say why it wants the information or to admit whether it makes it available to the US Government for tracking purposes. It's so dominating that no website can afford to ignore it, and it indexes so much of the web that few users think of using another. The way it ranks pages is a commercial secret outside any external supervision or control. If Google decides it doesn't like you then you can be dropped from the index.
This is a public utility that has to be regulated in the best interest of the public. A government serious about ensuring that the net benefits society as a whole could start investigatng Google and considering whether we should create Ofsearch, the office of Search Engines.
Also, if Google does become a media company, rather than a search engine, it might find itself under attack from more competitors than it bargained for.
To me, the saying of, blogging is not journalism seems to indicate that the company is worried that "this isn't journalism" is becoming a bigger and bigger part of ordinary peoples lives.
I think Google is different than any other search engine now. But as people change so do the ways we'll gather information. But Google may have its own troubles in growng, too. As there are many companies who are beginning to copy Googles gameplan. In the end, they may beat Google at its own game and exceed the search engine in many diffeent areas.


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