Blogs will supplement, not supplant, traditional forms of media
Parts 1 and 2 of this series were included in the anthology We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture (Perseus Publishing, 2002).
By J.D. Lasica
Will Weblogs displace established media organizations as a source of news, information and opinion? Not in this lifetime. But they will continue to make inroads as a supplement to traditional news sources.
As Doc Searls, one of the deep thinkers in the blog movement, says: “It’s a matter of ‘and’ logic, not ‘or’ logic. Weblogs will inform old media. They will increasingly be a source of information that traditional media will rely on.”
The first Weblog has generally been ascribed to Dave Winer (interviewed below) in 1997. Blogs began taking off in 1999 with the launch of sites like Blogger, Weblogger and LiveJournal, which made self-publishing painless for the masses. While tens of thousands of blogs have blossomed, mainstream media have only recently shown a glimmer of interest in the form.
“Journalism is going to have to get used to making room for lots of other people who are not journalists by training but who are just moved by whatever their nature happens to be.”
– Doc Searls
That’s hardly surprising. Weblogs are the anti-newspaper in some ways. Where the editorial process can filter out errors and polish a piece of copy to a fine sheen, too often the machinery turns even the best prose limp, lifeless, sterile and homogenized. A huge part of blogs’ appeal lies in their unmediated quality. Blogs tend to be impressionistic, telegraphic, raw, honest, individualistic, highly opinionated and passionate, often striking an emotional chord.
Sometimes they veer toward immediacy and conjecture at the expense of accuracy and thoughtful reflection. But the best news blogs offer a personal prism that combines pointers to trusted sources of information with a subjective, passion-based journalism. If nothing else, Weblogs are about personal publishing – people sharing what’s in their gut and backing it up with facts or persuasion.