The Times Does Proud

Blogging is a fun, and it’s a great way for creating community across many different types of boundaries. Some bloggers have influence, too, as evidenced by the Sony rootkit DRM or Thomas Hawk’s PriceRightPhoto debacle. But for all the talk about bloggers changing information dissemination and even some bloggers deserving press credentials, the real influence, the credibility remains with real journalists.

And New York Times has done some great investigative journalism of late. Two big stories from the last week—the kind of stuff that requires real reporting and deep editorial soul searching: “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers without Courts” and “Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World“. 

Bloggers have their opinions, and there are pundits aplenty, but journalists still operate in a different league. I’ve been thinking about this all weekend and planned on a longer treatise. But I’ve been pulled away.

Editor’s Note, Oct. 28, 2014: This post was manually retrieved from a TypePad archive, which process left behind comments. I include one and my response, for what they add to the storytelling.

[blue_box]Thomas Hawk
DATE: 12/21/2005 06:17:01 AM

But sometimes bloggers influence journalists, and stories are seeded through the blogosphere. In fact, had a blogger never covered a story there are times that journalists never would have found the story either. This is both empowering for the blogger and the journalist. The blogger’s points can be made indirectly and the journalist can add a degree of profesionalism and credibility to the process. I’d expect to see more and more saavy journalists following news sources like Digg, and I’m sure many of them already cover their favorite blog sources on the internet.

We still need journalists—and as they tend to be full-time paid professionals with training and background in the trade they bring much more to the table by way of credibility as well as the time needed to truly investigate stories than bloggers do. But there are only so many of them, and because they are limited in numbers their reach is by nature limited in scope.

The blogger uses the journalist for amplification. The journalist uses the bloggers for tips, sources, and broader coverage. It’s a realtionship that I think works well, and I would expect will go on for a long time.

There is some natural skepticism on the part of both and criticism that swings both ways at times, but in the end I think the two compliment each other nicely.[/blue_box]

[red_box]Joe Wilcox
DATE: 12/21/2005 07:40:56 PM

Thomas, you raise good points. My point, if I hadn’t a daughter interruption that kept me from really making it, was about the assumed power of bloggers. I know lots of people that believe blogging will replace news as we know it. I’m skeptical about that, and certainly hope that’s not the case. News, or facts, shouldn’t be what the masses decide.

That said, bloggers offer valuable insight into what people think and what’s important to them—a great snapshot, in fact. And bloggers force journalists to do better work and catch them when they foul up (Dan Rather is one example).

More importantly, your experience with the camera store shows the collective power of blogging to affect change—and perhaps justice—where it might not otherwise be attainable. And we both know journalists wrote stories based on your posts.

I’m a big believer in the collective power of the Web, somewhat lost during the rush to commercialization during the late 1990s but very much regained through blogging. There is community in blogging, and it’s a force for great change. Change for what, we’ll have to see.[/red_box]