Sorry I’m getting to the Brookings event on blogging, which is being webcast here, a little late this morning. One of the disadvantages of being a professor blogger is that other duties sometimes take precedence.
The panelists are discussing whether blogging is journalism, and whether it is an interesting question.
I have already sounded off on this, last week when I was talking about Jeff Jarvis. Journalism involves reporting or newsgathering, and then commentary. Reporting in journalism involves reporting from the scene and making sure you have the story sourced to more than one credible source. There are other techniques. News gathering is not usually something bloggers do. Think of Nir Rosen in Fallujah or Kirkuk or Kabul. If all you are doing is pasting together reporting, you are doing news consolidation, not journalism.
But the part of journalism that is commentary has always been ecumenical, and we professors have all along had a hand in that.
I would argue that what blogging has done has been to allow commentators to make an end-run around the gate-keepers that have grown up in journalism.
Sullivan is talking about blogging as taking the public temperature and listening in on the emotional content of hundreds of town hall meetings. That’s right, though the Founding Fathers were always worried about localist emotions taking over a political process that they believed should be rational-legal. There is some danger of blogging demagoguery.
A questioner (“Renaissance Man”) is saying that talk radio is passive, blogging is active. You check the primary sources, see who agrees and disagrees. The interactivity creates more informed, active citizens.
That can happen. But they can also use the blogosphere to reinforce prejudices and “create facts” that “everyone knows.”
Andrew Sullivan is talking about Iranians using blogging to build a political movement that is anti-dictatorial.
He also thinks that the blogosphere will remain primarily male, because the atmosphere of highly charged argumentation is more appealing to males.
Jodie Allen is making the point that podcasting may have a radical impact on how news is gathered.
The question of what is a journalist reminded me of Lee Bollinger’s attempt to rethink journalism training in hopes of making the profession less a craft and more a liberal art.
Let me just end up by commenting on Sullivan’s point about Iranian bloggers.
They aren’t important politically.
They are wonderful people under a lot of pressure, and some have been jailed. But they are not going to make a revolution. There aren’t that many nodes in Iran, and it just isn’t that wired a country. Old-style politics is what is going to matter in the near term.
There are occasional reports in the Iranian press about the busting up of nefarious internet dating rings in Iran. That’s right. Match.com is seen as a dire threat to the Republic there. Under such circumstances, the medium has difficulty making a really big mark there.