Saturday, November 06, 2004

Bill's reflective midterm

I am seeking the maximum amount of points with my reflection....100 points.

Everyone knows what audience participation means, but when does that translate into journalism and blogging journalism.

I used to think independent bloggers weren't journalists because no editor comes between the author and reader. I think being actually involved in a newsroom setting with an actual editor in command is the major factor that distinguishes between a journalist and blogger (amateur journalist).

That's what I used to think until actually becoming involved with my project and going through reams of copy on the subject of blogging versus journalism. Just as traditional journalism has made a big difference in political avenues (Bernstein-Woodward etc...), so has blogging on the Internet. There have been topics covered by bloggers on the Internet which has not seen the inside of a reporter's notebook, let alone prime space in a newspaper. Bloggers go where the traditional journalist fears to tread.

I have blogged almost 70,000 words in little over a month and have viewed almost 300 web and blogging sites in search of trying to settle the argument between journalists and bloggers. Just when I started to feel comfortable with the traditional and mainstream journalism brothers, there would be something on the otherside of the coin I would find to sway a little to the blogging side of the ledger.

Bloggers post news withheld by the mainstream media about a lot of things. One good example is professional basketball star Kobe Bryant's accuser's identity. You didn't find it in a newspaper or on TV. There was an agreement there would be no publication of her name or picture. But where did it appear? On the Internet and bloggers had a field day with it.

A big part of the problem that arises is the fact that there are ordinary people blogging the news. People, for the most part, without a degree or no experience in the journalism field. And, yet, they are getting the story more than the mainstream, or traditional journalists. Anybody can publish anything online and that's what is sticking in the throats of the mainstream journalists. For the first time, people at the edges of the network have the ability to create their own news entities.

When ordinary citizens contribute photos, video and news updates to mainstream news outlets, many would argue they're doing journalism. But when bloggers comment on and link to news stories, is that journalism? Usually no -- but it depends. When the blogger adds personal commentary that relies on original research, or if it is done by someone considered an authority on the subject, some would consider it journalism.

When a blogger conducts a phone interview with a newsworthy subject and posts it to his Weblog -- or does some research to turn up the address, phone number and e-mail of an alleged rape victim, as a number of bloggers did in July -- some would consider those acts of journalism, too.The same questions are raised when news organizations open up the channels of interactivity with their audiences. Voting in an online poll surely isn't journalism, but giving a first-hand report of one's travels in a foreign country may -- or may not be.

Whatever measuring stick one uses.......a strict definition that says journalism must involve original reporting and an editorial filter, or a broader one that considers travelogues, op-ed commentary and analysis journalism.......it's certain that audience participation in the news equation is on the upswing.And it's likely that forms of audience participation will become more widespread once mobile devices such as video-enabled phones -- which allow you to transmit text, photos and video directly over the phone -- become commonplace.

It seems participatopry journalism falls into these sections:
Audience participation at mainstream news outlets like Staff Weblogs, such as those written by The Dallas Morning News' editorial board. All involve reader comments in their blogs, either through e-mails or direct postings. Newsroom-sanctioned Weblogs written by outsiders, such as ABCnews.com's The Note giving presidential candidates their own blog. MSNBC and Fox News. Also included are the discussion forums like blogger cafe. We also can't forget articles written by readers. Many online newspapers in the United States and Europe ask high school students, parents and fans to contribute to reporting about their schools' football, wrestling and other sporting events.

Then there are photos, video and reports sent in by readers. The Dallas Morning News published readers' photos in its coverage of the space shuttle tragedy. The BBC has a standing page that uses photos e-mailed in by readers around the globe. The Santa Fe New Mexican publishes photos submitted by readers. The Providence (R.I.) Journal created a slide show of 130 images sent by readers of a spring blizzard. Australia's ABC News Online published reader write-ups and photos of devastating brushfires in Canberra. A news station in Japan recently aired live coverage of a massive fatal accident from a citizen-reporter with a video-enabled cell phone. The witness also called in a report from the scene.

The New York Times on the Web and Tribune Interactive, ask readers to review everything from travel destinations to restaurants.

The second is independent news and information Web sites.These are from individual Weblogs (Soundbitten) to niche-news publications geared to community or city news (Gawker, Benicia News, OpinionPleasanton), consumer news (ThemeParkInsider, The Car Place, Consumer World), politics (Workingforchange.com, Drudge Report) or a niche topic (Biased BBC, Gizmodo). In some cases, publications rely on well-versed amateurs or independent writers to provide original interviews, research and reporting. In other cases, the sites primarily generate editorial digests with varying degrees of commentary (Poynter.org's e-media tidbits and Romenesko). Some of these sites do journalism only in small pieces or resemblance, while for others citizen reporting is their primary purpose.

There are strictly participatory news sites, where citizen-reporters contribute a significant amount of material. South Korea's OhmyNews is the crown jewel of this breed. A similar citizen-reported news site called JanJan in Japan is modeling itself after OhmyNews. Indymedia offers first-person reporting of political news with a subjective slant.

We also can't forget Collaborative and contributory media sites. These sites include Slashdot, Kuro5hin and Metafilter, which mesh Weblogs and discussion boards together, users contribute editorial content (some of which would be appropriate for a newspaper or magazine) as well as links to news stories and ratings. Other community sites with mechanisms for self-publishing, self-ranking and self-organization include the collaborative newspaper RedPaper, Plastic.com and Everything2, which describes itself as "a very complex online community with a focus to write, publish and edit a quality database of information, art and humor. When you make an account here you join not only a team of dedicated writers but an entire micro-society and community with its own pop culture, politics, beauty and blunders." Many of the smaller sites in this category tend to quickly fall away. The Vines Network and ThemeStream, sites featured in The New York Times two years ago, have already disappeared.

Other kinds of this thin media are mailing lists (Dave Farber’s Interesting-People, Firehair's Internet Native News and Issues List), e-mail newsletters (ThirdAge’s Health Newsletter) and other digital media. Personal broadcasting sites also have to be brought into the picture. These include both video broadcast sites such as Daytonabeach-live.com and audio sites like KenRadio.com, where operator Ken Rutkowski conducts news interviews and pulls together a daily tech news report from various media sources. Other examples of participatory journalism seem to be cropping up all the time. And some of the categories listed above overlap with one another.

In the Studio I Tour my classmates took of my project, they seemed to like the fact I have posted so many words and tried to link everything I have talked about. I am trying to make my posts more to the point and attempt to eliminate wordiness. I have attempted to mix up my posts, too. Some are short. Some are long. but I do try to link one or two sites to which I have talked about. My classmates are also surprised I have been able to maintain my other blog, too. The thing is that I don't think I am doing something so great. i am working hard, but that's required to make my project good. It is easy to lose yourself for two to three hours at a time. I was very skeptical about this class in the beginning, but once I had success surfing and linking and being able to have some good ideas, it was easy and enjoyable. I feel it's somehting fun I am doing and not doing it because it's the requirement for a class. I am drawing some strong conclusions when it comes to blogging and journalism. I can see blogging as the new wave of the future and it can be successful with some monitoring and having bloggers play by some rules. I can also see it being the media people turn, too, becaue newspapers will die out. No one will have time to by a newspaper subscription and sit down to read it. We are becoming a society too busy to read something like a papoer. Everything we want, we ant to be able to read on a screen. We want to be able to dial up and read what we want. We don't want to shuffle through newsprint to get the news. We are heading to a strictly electronic age of this medium. We'll subscribe to newspapers on the television. Like a 24-hour newspaper on TV. That's how we'll get our news. We're practically there already with 24 hour sports channels, news channels and weather channels.

Once a person gets past the intimidation factor, I think they are home free and really ready to be the citizen journalist that is making a solid contribution to the web.People are becoming interactive in the news. All the major networks givew average citizens the chance to comment on the news they are viewing evry day. They are giving them the opportunity to send in their own news. They are offering Internet and web users a different view of the world. We are getitng a chance to see the whole picture, not just a piece of it as regulated by the mainstream. We are being able to understand, digest and spew our thoughts and show the traditional mainstream there's more than just one side to a story.

Overall Perspective:

I have tried to address and attack quite a few subjects, most interesting I think, on my bnlog. The list of some are: Ethics in blogging and journalism, and the need for a code of ethics for blog journalists; Blogging and politics-role that blogs are playing in the campaign; Sports reporting and blogging; What it takes to be a blogger- ABC says it's simply a desire to write, but is that all? Conflicts between bloggers and traditional journalists, both newspaper and television (Brokaw likens blogging to "political jihad"); The media and trust and War blogging.

I have also attempted to tackle the critical issue of credibility. I have done this, as well as making sure all my posts are backed up with links to the articles or news sources I am focusing on. I also attempt to draw the classroom experience on sunbjects we talk about in the class, and I enjoy talking about what Rebecca Blood blood has to say on subjects.

I enjoy keeping track of what journalist bloggers are thinking when it comes to dealing with issues like the fact that "weblogs are allowed to comment on any subject area without facing any repercussions," Used wisely, a weblog is a good tool, October 4)], an issue that many readers face when they are searching for alternate, but credible observations about certain topics.

There's a wealth of information on topics pertaining to the clash between bloggers and journalists. One article was "One more time: Journalism vs. Blogging" which states that:

"the author says the difference between the two is journalism is prostitution and blogging is recreational sex. When you blog, according to the author, you do it when you want it, how you want it, and on what topic you want. You're hoping their is an audience out there to read what you get off on. Journalists have a lot of things to prove to people. There's the editor and the company management to please. You're actually writing what your editor thinks is important and do it in the format and manner inwhich he wants it. He is the most important part of the equation" [(Talking about blogging versus journalism, October 5th)].

It's not difficult to be viewing two schools of on the blogging vs. journalism topic:
"one side claims that "Blogging is not journalism" because the readers don't know who's credible and how is not, while
the other side says, "with the advent of weblogging, the readers know more than the journalists."
Blogging is not journalism", October 7th


In my research I have found some gray areas, too, in the sense that "in order for there to be credibility among bloggers, as opposed to the credibility that journalists build for themselves by having to check...and double check every piece of information Bloggers, journalists need some sort of rules, bloggers must try to adhere to the very same standards that journalists do. There is always a stigma of intellectual dishonesty in a bloggers thought or writing Show me the context, baby!, October 7th.

People are also going online for their news sources rather than purchasing print copies of the very same sources. In "On-line advertising killing traditional journalism" October 18th, "newspapers are fighting for survival when it comes to battling the ad dollars. If people are reading on-line, that means they aren't reading a particular newspaper, which means no ad avenue...the basis of the lifeblood for every newspaper. The journalists, and newspapers, are going to have to find their niche online so they can also use online advertising to their benefit" October 18th.

The bottomline I am trying to do is refuting the journalists who say blogging isn't a respectable form of public record by making it a respectable public record of their record. But I think I could use more links to strengthen my commentaries even more.


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