Here’s an interesting excerpt from Paul Andrews: “Blogs are making it safe for mass media to be more independent and investigative…indeed, blogs may end up saving mass media from themselves, which is their only future.” He talks about how weblogs “give established media outlets an identifiable and quantifiable measure of public opinion.” If so, if the staffers at CNN and NYT and others are routinely checking the pulse of personal weblogs, what does that mean for the potential of millions of essayists joining the conversation?
Frankly, when you get right down to it, weblogs aren’t as much journalism as they are a collection of essays. Most are a raw form of exposition (especially my students’ weblogs) that reports not so much what is in front of the author’s eyes but what is behind them. And as such, they probably do represent a pretty good cross section of public opinion, but I’m less convinced that most are any kind of real, journalism. Kinda how Glenn Fleishman puts it: “… journalism is asking other people why things work the way they do, and trying to ask enough people to paint a picture of the truth; commentary is asking yourself.”
And what about this from Jason Kottke: “One possible answer is that the collective act of weblogging is producing a basic form of journalism, which you might call “bottom-up journalism” or “peer-to-peer journalism”. It works like this: individual webloggers, each acting in their own self-interest (the “simple-minded component parts” Johnson refers to), post bits of information to their weblogs. Then the feedback loop starts. Readers and other webloggers take those initial bits of information, rework them, and feed them back into the system in the form of weblog posts, email feedback, or comments on individual weblog posts. Rinse. Repeat.” I love that description. This is what it is about, without question. But it is the comment, the opinion that gets attached that I find so interesting. That’s what’s making my J1 class weblog so amazing. They read the article, then attach meaning to it, and debate that meaning. Talk about media/news literacy! It’s happening before my very eyes!
Weblogs could be real journalism, though! And that’s why I’d like to hear Pat’s ideas on doing school journalism through a cms. The freshness, the potential functionality, the resources that a weblog cum Web site could provide to students could be awesome. Think of individual section weblogs, one for news, one for features, sports, opinion…could be a very organic, dynamic enterprise. Provide interactivity for students, and who knows what might happen. It’s a very cool idea…another to add to the list.
And finally, how about this from Henry Jenkins at MIT: “Imagine a world where there are two kinds of media power: one comes through media concentration, where any message gains authority simply by being broadcast on network television; the other comes through grass-roots intermediaries, where a message gains visibility only if it is deemed relevant to a loose network of diverse publics. Broadcasting will place issues on the national agenda and define core values; bloggers will reframe those issues for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard.” Blogging saves the world…
Some other links: “Observations from a Weblogger” from Dan Bricklin.
Microcontent–A new find. Great content on weblogs, zines, etc. (When am I supposed to read all this stuff?)
Ken Layne–Journalist weblog
Bloglet–A Blogger subscription site.