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  Notes: Blogging vs. Journalism  
 
 
Posted 2005-03-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
It's a no-holds-barred fistfight moderated by Jason Teitler (Porter Novelli), and featuring panelists Jason Kottke (kottke.org), Rebecca MacKinnon (Berkman Center for Internet & Society), Jason Calacanis (Weblogs, Inc.), Brad Owens (Baylor University). As it turned out, the panelists agreed on most points. Notes follow...

[I missed the first thirty seconds of this presentation running from a panel room to the SXSW Day Stage]

[Kottke]- who do you work for? do you get paid or not? now, it's shifting a little bit... it's something that's almost a state of mind... i'm not sure how you deal with that legally... how do you separate whether or not you are actually doing journalism or not? i have times on my site where i think i'm doing journalism and times when I'm not.

[Calcanis]- filtering vs. unfiltered: when you filter a blogger, they become a journalist

[MacKinnon]- bloging and journalism overlap... some bloggers are pretty adamant [such as David Weinberger] that what they are doing is not journalism... no fact-checking... a conversation... shouldn't be held to the same standards... on the other side, journalists are finding blogging to be a useful tool... I found there was too much filtering going on at CNN [where she was a bureau chief]... I became very interested in blogging as a way to get through editors... frustration with what goes on in the background regarding editorial decisions... felt credibility could get hurt... blogging can establish transparency... we have a new media ecosphere going on now [bloggers feeding off journalists, MSM feeding off blogs]... how will this evolve? how will we diversify this ecosystem and avoid the feedback loop? ... ecosystem of conversation and journalism-- what kind of voices will arise out of this?

[Teitler]- there will be increasing ties between blogs and MSM...

[Owens]- I don't think we get to say whether we are doing journalism or not... better journalism results from better fact-checking... transparency [re: sponsorship]... editing... on the other hand, marketing-driven vs. content-driven editing is no good... journalism is non-fiction... journalism is timely... journalism is reaching a mass audience... bloggers who do those things are journalists... i don't like to see the government defining us...

[Calcanis]- what we have here is a battle over what technique gets you your information quicker... the idea of someone being biased is ridiculous... disclosure is important... fact checking... transparent editing [via strikethrough]... we can't determine what the truth is... what Wikipedia and many blogs do is allow a forum for the ongoing debate about the truth... the traditional model of journalism is broken and needs to be fixed... the heart of the matter is which technique do you trust more... which do you feel more empowered by?

[Owens]- bloggers bring back some journalistic values, such as competition... when you write, there is accountbility... we have more immediacy... we need more facts found in the field [direct sources]... I hope we see more bloggers do fact gathering and checking...

[Calcanis]- if over time people don't trust you because of your ethics, people don't respect what you do... readers are incredibly intelligent and will assess your importance...

[Kottke]- it's a semantic discussion about whether I'm a journalist in bringing news to his readers... it's up to my readers if they trust me as a media source... of course you'll believe what you see on the MSM, but with blogs, they have no long-term history, hard to establish trust...

[Calcanis]- audience should take information with a grain of salt...

[Owens]- the MSM has made strategic decisions that have lead to mistakes... that opens the door for competitors to come in... the best cure for bad journalism is competition... blogs happened because of technology... the succeeded because of how they watchdog the MSM

[MacKinnon]- people who go into journalism want to support democracy... MSM only cares about bottom line, quarterly earnings... there is a tremendous values disconnect between journalists in the field and their employers... blogs are showing is there is a demand for intelligent discourse...a fabulous way of jolting the media into attention...

[Calcanis]- when will blogs start chasing the dollar too [panelists agree that they already have]...

[MacKinnon]- is the pursuit of profit maximization incompatible with good journalism... will blogs turn into micro publishing outlets...

[Owens]- the big media outlets are outrageously profitable... you want to make money to stay a journalist... if it's about making money, you can't be a good journalist...

[MacKinnon]- you're never going to be able to draw a line between bloggers and journalists in a concrete, legal way... in terms of standards, I think that has to evolve organically... either the public trusts you or you don't... no public accreditation org can dub someone a blogger...

[Calcanis]- anyone can be hit with lawsuits... if you don't have intent to harm, if you correct errors, you don't have much to worry about...

[Owens]- if you're a fair-minded person and you're careful with facts [you're going to be OK]... [refences Apple vs. bloggers case]... these people were identified as journalists, but the judge busted them for being bad at it...

[Calcanis]- if you point to something in RL, it's not a problem, but in the online world, you can't just point at something...

[MacKinnon]- there are a lot of bloggers who will post stuff without thinking about the consequences... because they feel it's "just" blogging... there is more of an audience out there than many people realize...

[Owens]- you have a responsibility to be accountable...

[Calcanis]- [outlines some of his company policies around rumours, Fair Use, disclosure] ...blogging is really good at letting people see what's behind the curtain...

[Kottke, re: pay-blogging]- "if bloggers and the blogging industry start treating what they are covering as a business first, then it's going to be hard to produce good work in that context..." ...it all comes back to the trust issue for me... readers will vote with their eyeballs... if they are interested in gossip, they will go to a gossip site...

[MacKinnon, re: diversity]- the currency of blogging is attention... are people with different backgrounds going to get attention... the MSM assumes that Americans don't care what's going on in the rest of the world... bloggers should point to international blogs to help them gain a voice... i hope that as the blogosphere develops, we won't mirror the inadequacies of the MSM...

[Kottke, re: diversity]- when I point to people who are like me, it's because i got to know them and they are friends of mine... i dont think of it as being an elitist white male kind of thing, it's what's available to me in my immediate social circle... there are so many voices and perspectives out there... i hope tools evolve to address some of the inadequacies...

[Calcanis, re:diversity]- blog biases are based on the words alone... the more affluent someone is, the worse they are as a blogger...

[Owens]- there is a move away from a neutral point of view... driven by opinion, supported by fact... disclosure is important... journalists should make their biases known so readers can make their own determination as to the fidelity of the content...

[MacKinnon]- transparency about the news-making process... who are your sources, how are you collecting your facts... the contexts in which you are functioning are important...
 
     
 
   
 
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