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