September 8, 2003

How blogging benefits media organizations

This is a sidebar to Blogs and journalism need each other, which appeared in the Fall 2003 edition of Harvard University’s Nieman Reports.

By J.D. Lasica

What benefits do blogs bring to journalism? Several.

Pushing the envelope. Weblogs are helping to expand the boundaries of experimental forms of transaction journalism. Freelance journalist Christopher Allbritton, a former reporter for The Associated Press, asked his Weblog readers to finance a trip to Iraq at the outbreak of hostilities there. Some 320 people donated $14,334 and helped him launch Back-to-Iraq.com, and then served as his editors during three weeks of dispatches during which he broke news on the fall of Tikrit and highlighted the Balkan-style ethnic tensions between Kurds, Arabs, Turkomen and Assyrians. [See Allbritton’s story on page TK.] Similarly, freelancer David Appell, a physics Ph.D. who has written for Nature, asked his readers to donate $20 apiece to fund his investigation of the politics of the sugar industry. He wrote a report after raising $425.

Influencing at the edges.
We see sentiments first expressed on Weblogs bubble up into the mainstream media days or weeks after they first surface in the blogosphere. Similarly, all too often the mainstream media tend to dispose of stories in a fast-paced news cycle, with even important news events falling off their radar screen after 48 hours. Bloggers say, hold the phone, we’re not done with this yet. Blogs keep stories alive by recirculating them and regurgitating them with new angles, insights and even newsworthy revelations. Weblogs were credited with helping to get the mainstream news media interested in the racially insensitive remarks by Senator Trent Lott that led to his resignation as Senate majority leader.

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September 8, 2003

Blogs and journalism need each other

The transparency of blogging has contributed to news organizations becoming more accessible and interactive

This article appeared in the Fall 2003 edition of Harvard University’s Nieman Reports. The article was accompanied by a sidebar, How blogging benefits media organizations.

By J.D. Lasica

Suggest to an old-school journalist that blogs have anything to do with journalism and you’ll be met with howls of derision. Amateur bloggers typically have no editorial oversight, no training in the craft, and no respect for the news media’s rules and standards. Does the free-for-all renegade publishing form known as blogging really have anything to do with journalism?

Well, yes. Consider:

* During the peace demonstrations in February, Lisa Rein took to the streets of San Francisco and Oakland, camcorder in hand, and taped video footage of the marchers and speakers, such as Rep. Barbara Lee, Harry Belafonte and antiwar activist Ron Kovic. She posted the video on her Weblog, complete with color commentary, providing much deeper coverage of the events than a viewer would get by watching the local news.

* At technology and media conferences, such as PopTech, South by Southwest and Digital Hollywood, bloggers in the audience have reported conference events in real time, posting photographs, speaker transcripts, and summaries and analysis of key points a full day before readers could see comparable stories in the daily newspaper.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 UnportedThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

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