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Quote of the Day - If I'd written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people - including me - would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism. - Hunter S. Thompson
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MSM Attacks Blogs. Ask Yourself Why Before Reaching A Conclusion.

On the way into work yesterday, NPR featured two stories on blogs. The first one discussed the relationship of blogs and MSM, an acronym for "mainstream media" a.k.a. print and broadcast media. MSM does not include blogs.

That was basically the thrust of the NPR piece: Blogs are not journalism.

Well .... of course not. Bloggers have struggled with the issue of whether they are journalistic in nature. By the way, read through that last link to PressThink by Jay Rosen. He's the Chair of New York University's Department of Journalism and has some very worthwhile thoughts on all aspects of the press, as well as some of his guest bloggers.

So, if blogs are not journalism, what are they? Well ... they're journalism.


Think about it. What is journalism?

Is journalism the neat and tidy package that the grey lady group would have us believe? MSM is not just the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and the like.

It's also the National Enquirer, the Star Magazine, and the host of other unmentionables that we all see on magazine rack, even those wrapped in brown paper bags (don't open that last link at work).

NPR takes blogging to task for damaging the careers of public figures.

Pot? Kettle? I don't see the difference. MSM cannot truly make that claim with a straight face.

Politicians and the fourth estate have always had an uneasy relationship.

But for MSM to attack blogs as not truly journalism misses the point. Blogs are journalism, and blogs are not. Just in the same way that MSM is not truly just "reporting" the facts. Every fact printed or broadcast by MSM is filtered.

Filtered through the eyes of the reporter, copywriter, editor, producer, owner, advertiser and even filtered through your eyes - the readers and listeners. It can't be any other way.

Blogs are not that different. But there is one significant difference, and that difference is what bothers MSM, and why we get cranky reports like the ones on NPR, where MSM reporters criticize blogs as not truly worthy of the mantle of journalism. I would caution those reporters, and NPR, to be careful how high they hold that mantle.

The difference between blogs and MSM is the elimination of most of the middlemen. When you read blogs, such as this one, you get the "reporter." You don't get the copywriter, editor, producer and owner in the way, paring down what I write.

The only two filters are you and me.

Sure, there's a big ad up there, and maybe some would say that ad influences what I write, but I don't think so. Unlike a newspaper, the ad doesn't pay me enough. If I lost the ad, I'd still be writing, and hopefully, you'd still be reading. But if a newspaper, magazine, TV or radio station lost all their ads, they'd stop. There would be nothing more for you to read, listen to or watch.

MSM is particularly troubled because blogs are media, and certainly fall within the broad definition of journalism. Most blogs fall outside the "grey lady" definition of journalism. But there are blogs that are considered mainstream. "MSB," I guess. Mainstream Blogs. Certainly those are the most popular.

Within the blogosphere, there are opinions. But they're easy to spot. I'd say a lot easier to spot than the opinions offered to us by the grey lady gang, while they oblige us to accept their reporting as factual, when in reality, they're simply disguising their filtered opinions as facts. Between MSM journalism and blogs, I'll take blogs. I can readily see the blogger's perspective, and separate the fact from the opinion.

I guess it comes down to this: MSM essentially argues that we should "take their word for it" because we're not smart enough to figure it out on our own. I disagree. I think we (you) are smart enough to separate fact from opinion. That's the argument proffered on NPR. Don't read (or listen or watch) blogs because they're full of opinion.

Do you really think that MSM presents news to us without also interjecting their opinion?

Yes, the same is true about blogs. But, there are others out there likewise considered within the definition of journalism.

After all, if you have a legal question, who would you rather hear the answer from? A newspaper reporter who asked a lawyer?

Or from a lawyer who's also a highly respected law professor?

Plus, if you'd like, you can comment directly to me, the writer, and post your comments (written or audio) to the very same article you want to comment on. Try doing that on a newspaper article, TV or radio broadcast.

Are blogs a conversation? You bet.

But they're much more than that. Watch out MSM, you haven't seen anything yet.


Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 11:17 Comments Closed (3) |
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