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The Media

Blogging for Dummies? 223

Guinnessy writes "Wired News reports that one of the most respected journalism schools in America is going to be teaching blogging as part of next semester's course. I find this quite interesting, especially considering the existing controversy over whether blogging, such as Slashdot, is real journalism or not. I still haven't made up my mind." "Blog" now takes the cake as the most ill-used word of 2002. Please draw distinctions between webpages with news, mindless link propagation, discussion sites, personal diaries or journals, etc.
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Blogging for Dummies?

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  • I don't believe Slashdot is a BLOG. I would call it a portal myself. Then again, I don't see the academic value of teaching blogging. For the most part it is just a personal journal or diary. Then u have those "script kiddie" sites with links, and mindless posts about nothing. Oh well.
    • Then u have those "script kiddie" sites with links, and mindless posts about nothing. Oh well

      I know Slashdot is bad, but that's kinda harsh!!

    • College Credit.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Knoxvill3 ( 578169 )
      Hey, colleges and universities have to encorporate something that is A) Related to the Present and B) Something easy that even a 1/2 wit can Ace.

      And Weblogs, aka 'Blog's, are just that and then some. I must say I like to occasionally sift through someone's online journal or 'Blog', but 1/2 the time I find myself wondering 'Why is this person complaining?' and 'Where did this person get the idea that people would want to read this stuff?' (that would make me guilty I guess.) and last, but certainly not least, 'Where in the [heck] did this person learn english?'

      But to defend that last curiousity, we can blame the net, (or even D-Dials if you really want to push it), for the lack of educational value when it comes to the written word, namely english. Even I can not concider myself an english major, nor will I even attempt such a bogus statement, but geez, compared to some sites, I could fall into thinking that I'm an English Language God of sorts. =)

      But the end result, it just smells like college teachers are just looking for things to make them 'Hip' and 'in the know' of the present, and it will last a few years till the fad dies down, then it will be tossed into your Local Junior College's Adult education class catalog, right under 'Potery'.

      ( Disclaimer - Potery is not Bad, Pot maybe, But Potery is not, unless of course your a complete and under freak, then maybe even breathing would be a class with too much of a curve for you. Anyways...)
    • by ( 311775 )
      The reason you cannot count Slashdot as a BLOG is because it is the original BLOG that grew into a community. Most Blogs will only be simple journals. I remember trying to tell my dad about Slashdot way back and told him it was like reading the newspaper and submitting your letter to the editor in a matter of seconds with other people commenting on you letter to the editor within a few minutes. He responded "so it's total chaos". That's when I decided I had no idea how to explain slashdot.
    • Be nice if you, oh, I don't know - read the article maybe. There are real journalists who keep blogs, and a lot of blogs are quite precisely not a personal diary. The class to which the article refers to, in fact, specifies that students make blogs that are neither simple collections of links nor "these are my feelings" personal blogs.
  • Journalism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by papasui ( 567265 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:02PM (#3657180) Homepage
    Newspapers are believed do to credibility and for the most part unbiased reporting. Credibility can be established by reporting accurately, truthfully, and by keeping current with the events. Slashdot has a bit of sensationalism along with opinnions and sometimes unreliable sources that prevent me from believing everything I read on it. If a person can establish themselves as reliable source of information then I believe a blog can be true journalism.
    • Re:Journalism (Score:2, Insightful)

      by John Hasler ( 414242 )
      "Slashdot has a bit of sensationalism along with opinnions and sometimes unreliable sources that prevent me from believing everything I read on it."

      If you believe everything you read in the newspapers you are a gullible fool. Conventional media are no more accurate, truthful, or unbiased than Slashdot. The difference is that here you find out about the inaccuracies, etc. Newspapers publish corrections only under threat of lawsuit, and then on an obscure back page weeks or months after the event.
  • Slashdot a Blog? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PeekabooCaribou ( 544905 ) <> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:02PM (#3657182) Homepage Journal
    Who in their right mind would call Slashdot a "blog"? Blogs to me have always been personal journals. Slashdot is more professional than personal, though it doesn't fit well into either category. Maybe it's just that I find /. useful, and journals self-centered and annoying. =P Off-topic? =)
    • Call me an old fart (25), but back in the day when data transfer was 2400bps, things like this were called Message Boards. Now I know that it's not hip to allow two english words to come together to form the name of a technical entity, but we still use the term "newsgroups" now don't we.

      So maybe we can shorten Messages Boards or acronymize it so it's cool:

      Message Boards

      Message Boards

      Message Boards

      There ya go. From now on things like this will be called Mebo's. That can be next years stupid term. Dibs on the trademarks though ;]

    • Slashdot fits the "original" description of "weblog" - a journal of interesting links described and disseminated to the readership. There are a few other "weblogs" - "blogs" - like that still out there, but you're right, "blog" these days does tend to refer to personal journals.

      Now imagine me doing Dr.-Evil-air-quotes for the whole thing. (An evil weblog?)

  • Slashdot is where I get a (slight) majority of my news, at least tech related. I certainly think of it as journalism. I also get quite a bit of news from Kuro5hin [], another weblog type site that I consider journalistic. I usually hear about news stories on one of these sites before they show up in the mainstream press []. Sometimes the mainstream press takes a week or two longer than the weblogs.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I certainly think of it as journalism.

      can't ....
      must stop.....


      In a story posted by michael, no less!!! Haha, you karmawhore.

      Thank you, that is all.
    • Re:Journalism yes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by topham ( 32406 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:11PM (#3657231) Homepage
      Kuro5hin might rank as journalism. Not very good journalism in my opinion... Slashdot on the other hand is seldom anything more than a news cutting service with the occasional editorial comment. (more often than not the editiorial comment is more ignorant than the trolls...).

      • Slashdot on the other hand is seldom anything more than a news cutting service with the occasional editorial comment.

        When has it been anything different? How is it expected to be different? Ingoring Katz, of course.
    • I don't know about calling it journalism... Sure, Slashdot is definately where I get the (vast) majority of tech news, but all that news is just harvested from other sites, isn't it? Slashdot is to the New York times as Readers Digest is to magazines. (Sort of, you get what I mean) On a side note, I'm going to concur with just about everyone else in saying that calling Slashdot a Blog is definately a misuse of the term. It's not someone's journal. That's a Blog.
  • by LinuxInDallas ( 73952 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:04PM (#3657191)
    Be careful what you say in your online site. After all, we all know that you have to be paid in order for it to be considered REAL journalism with 1st ammendment protection... 16 24241&mode=thread&tid=153

    This may be a great thing. It somewhat officially broadens what an important institution considers journalism.
    • Too late. I've said over and over on my web page that John Ashcroft is not a patriot. In fact he's a deadly enemy of the American people. I hope that he gets fired and subsequently cannot fulfil his dream of being a choir director.
    • 1st Amendment? What's that?
      1. It's not just that many bloggers are outside the USA; what if a Yank's web hosting is located outside the USA? If you send libellious material across the Net, does that constitute border-crossing, involving the FBI?
      2. I'm in the opposite situation - I'm in Ireland, but my blog [] is hosted in the USA (Utah), so does that mean that I could be liable for prosecution under American law?
      "The whole wide world, an endless universe,
      yet we keep looking through the eyeglass in reverse..."
      - Rush: Territories (1984)

  • Please draw distinctions between webpages with news, mindless link propagation, discussion sites, personal diaries or journals, etc.

    That's often a matter of opinion. Anyone who's spent more than a fortnight reading Slashdot knows this, unless they're brain-dead -- it's all of these, as are numerous other blogs and bloggish sites.

  • Isn't that redundant?
  • Blogs and Cat People (Score:3, Interesting)

    by allrong ( 445675 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:07PM (#3657204) Homepage
    In my (albeit brief) investigations into the personal diary style of blog I seem to have found a correlation between being a female PD blogger and the ownership of a cat. Any suggestions why?

    Where are the dog people?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      out walking their dogs (and possibly socializing with other people out walking their dogs), of course!

      not sitting at their PCs yelling at their cats for walking on the keyboard while they're trying to blog ;-)
  • Please draw distinctions between webpages with news, mindless link propagation, discussion sites, personal diaries or journals, etc. ... sounds like he's describing /.

  • Don't forget wiki (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Another crap word of the year.
  • How come when someone posts unimpressive, uninteresting, tiresome blogs about their day at work/school/home, they receive an abundance of comments for that blog, but when someone posts a real good thought-provoking blog, the number of comments left for it barely even exceeds zero? Do people feel intimidated? Or do they just have no brain and cannot be bothered to come up with a response? It is nice to see that a few people take some initiative and comment, as small as that number of people may be. Except slashdot, where it's all goatse and bearded linux hippies.
    • How come when someone posts unimpressive, uninteresting, tiresome blogs about their day at work/school/home, they receive an abundance of comments for that blog, but when someone posts a real good thought-provoking blog, the number of comments left for it barely even exceeds zero? Do people feel intimidated?

      Actualy this is the premise that trolls use.

      If you piss people off, they will respond to you in droves.

      On the other hand if you manage to gradualy build up an argument and convince your readership that you are correct;

      well heck, what is left to be said? You win, case closed. ^_^
  • Slashdot may be bloglike in its listing of news. However, I have come to the conclusion Slashdot is so much more than a blog because (a) as others have pointed out it is not so personal and acts as a portal to news sites but more importantly (b) there are forums through comments such as these, which make Slasdot so much more than a blog.
  • by CtrlPhreak ( 226872 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:11PM (#3657238) Homepage
    Forget the class and just take a basic class on spelling and grammer!
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:11PM (#3657240) Homepage Journal
    Freedom of the press is one of the most cherished freedoms we hold in this country (the US). It, hopefully, is the 4th branch of government that keeps all other branches in check through close scrutiny.

    Lately, however, such scrutiny has become non-existent. Whether this is a result of the 9/11 attack and its subsequent Arab bashing or because powerful entities with ties to liberal political movements (Ted Turner) have bought out all the major news outlets is up in the air. If anything, it's probably a combination of both factors. These days we see nothing but carefully crafted 'news' and air-brushed reporters and anchors on the tube. The real news gets lost somewhere on the cutting room floor.

    So where can we get our news now without the Big Brother Filter working overtime? The main source is the Web. Sites like the Drudge Report, NewsMax, and IndyMedia (not to mention our own new-anarchist Slashdot :-) are set up to print news as it comes with only the lightest of editing.

    So what comes out of this new media? Frankly, crap for the most part. However, hidden deep in the headlines are jewels of information and true news. Unfortunately these gems are surrounded by conspiracy theories and crackpot reporting that it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. That's the problem with the new media.

    The benefit of the new media (or blogs as the article incorrectly calls it) is that discussion of the topics at hand can begin almost immediately. is a great example because after each story the readers can chime in with their own comments and insights or provocations. In short, it is news by consensus. Not too shabby.
    • (not to mention our own new-anarchist Slashdot :-) [...] In short, it is news by consensus.

      Someone else pointed out that the correct term is "neo-anarchist", and second, it's not really anarchist. It's more of a dictatorship, quite frankly. The articles to be discussed are chosen by an unelected group of editors, and we just get to rant. "News by consensus" would imply that the editors decide collectively which stories will be posted, all stories were unanimously agreed upon, and tossing in the word "anarchist" implies that all participants have a say in which stories are posted, instead of the unchosen few. It sounds a bit harsh, but at 3 am, I can't think of a nicer way to explain it:)

      A slightly better example might be Indymedia's features. The center-column stories are developed by individuals or groups, and they're posted and edited on a collective, consensus basis. Anyone may submit a feature to any IMC (generally, it's good to try to make a feature relevant to the local IMC you're submitting to, though this varies greatly), and anyone can get involved in the editing and decision process.

      Admittedly, the consensus process breaks down for breaking stories, as someone occasionally takes initiative and posts a hot story in a features column, but editing and development continues collaboratively.

      This is mostly based on my observations of and occasional participation in the "global" features collective; some locals have a similar style of features development, some rely heavily on dedicated volunteers to handle development. A few rely on one or two people, simply due to a lack of volunteers.

      Newsmax, from what I gather, is like a "traditional" newsroom, only really right-wing, and Drudge is the man himself plugged in to everywhere and posting anything hot. It's his site, dammit, and he'll do what he wants:)

      Hashing out new ways of using a powerful medium is fun!
    • Lately, however, such scrutiny has become non-existent....So where can we get our news now without the Big Brother Filter working overtime?

      When you say 'we', are you talking about 'us' the readers of /. og 'you' the Americans ?

      Criticism is not dead over hear in Europe, and that is one of the reasons that Europeans and Americans have such different oppinions about world affairs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:12PM (#3657247)
    "Please draw distinctions between webpages with news, mindless link propagation, discussion sites, personal diaries or journals, etc"

    No. I won't. And you're somewhat screwed up to think a word's popular use, lending itself to a definition, should change simply because it's too broad. A word, part of language, can encompass many topics and things. That's why we use them.

    The single word, blog, can mean all of those types of pages. If you want better distinctions, find another word, came up with another word and hope it becomes part of popular language (you've contributed before with a term, e.g. the slashdot effect), or use language (words, usage, formatting) to clarify the distinctions you seek.

    A square is (or you're case, wait, that's too broad) a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square. Caucasion, human. Web pages, or
    • What literary authorities have defined "blog"? It does not yet appear in the online version of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary [] or at []

      If it's not in either of these places yet, who's to say what definitions are right or wrong?
      • a word is defined by the common usage of it. think of all the slang words that aren't in the dictionary. there are hundreds of them, and new ones being created all the time. just because the dictionary doesn't have the word, that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a definition. "blog" is a slang word like all the others, granted it may be geek-slang, but it is slang nontheless.
      • by Broccolist ( 52333 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:09PM (#3657472)
        Who cares what a dictionary says? If Merriam-Webster put out the entry "vertelswoop" in their next edition, would that make it an English word? The right definition is the one that most people use. Dictionaries can only describe definitions, not impose them.

        This is a bit of a sore point for me, because the dictionary makers in my native language, French, constantly try to impose ridiculous rules on the language. For instance, "chat" has taken hold as the French word for Internet chatting. But the Academie Francaise, in its infinite wisdm, declared the artificial word "clavardage" (a hideous mutant splice of the French words for "keyboard" and "small talk") to be the Pure French Word to replace it. The worst part is that some people have begun to use it. We shouldn't ascribe that kind of power to the so-called "authorities".

        • > Who cares what a dictionary says? ... The right definition is the one that most people use.

          Agreed, however, how are we supposed to come together and decide the most appropriate and correct way to communicate without a central source of definition? IMO, dictionaries like Websters and OED are the best way to collaborate as we can all agree to use it the same way. Also IMO, what you or I think is the *BEST* way does not matter as long as we all try to use it consistently in an attempt to avoid confusion. This is why I always take Websters word for it (or if I'm desparate, the OED) - if they don't know the proper pronunciation/usage/defitition of a word, where the hell else am I supposed to find the way "most people use" it, as you said? Or should I just make it up?
        • French, constantly try to impose ridiculous rules on the language. For instance, "chat" has taken hold as the French word for Internet chatting.

          So let me get this right. The English translation of the French word for on line chatting is 'pussy'? This merely confirms what the English have always suspected about the French.

    • I saw a blogging dummy in the restroom today.
  • by anthony_dipierro ( 543308 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:13PM (#3657252) Journal
    Calling slashdot a blog, or calling it journalism.
  • 'blog (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BreakWindows ( 442819 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:15PM (#3657262) Homepage
    A "blog" is an online diary. Just because it's a "journal", doesn't make it journalism, by the practical definition. Hopefully, this school is teaching the difference.

    My first reaction is: "Great, just when I thought the trend of whining bohemian teenagers was on the decline, more fascinating online drivel about how the Offspring sold out". Rethinking it, though, maybe the internet will take more shape as a source of alternative media. Televised news is a joke, newspapers almost all suck (besides the Indypendant or the National Review, I can't think of any worth a read), the clearchannel or the radio, whatever it's called, is getting more silly by the day...maybe a large group of "bloggers" seeking out stories and drawing the lines between them will form a perfect source.

    I mean, the WTO protests in Seattle a few years ago had TV/radio/Newspapers reporting protestors rioting, and cops using almost no force against them. Personal accounts contradicted this and soon after, video and photos turn up on the internet of cops firing rubber bullets into crowds of people sitting on the sidewalk, tear gas canisters flying and even one cop ripping someone's gas mask off to pepper-spray(?) him. Who would know, if not for the fact that individuals spread the word independantly, that quite a few innocent people had been lumped in with the couple of assholes that kept showing up on CNN?

    You can't take an individual's opinion as fact, but the same could be said of major news outlets. Similarly, you can't expect those major news stations to fess up when some stories don't add up, or are mysteriously omitted. If enough people start reporting what they see, eventually we'll get a much larger idea of what is really going on around here.

    • ...and it's been there since the Seattle WTO protests. []
    • Re:'blog (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheSteve ( 149820 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @01:20AM (#3657931)
      'A "blog" is an online diary. Just because it's a "journal", doesn't make it journalism, by the practical definition.'

      Not all what people are calling blogs are just journal and online gossip columns - there are quite a few out there that have a lot of good information and intelligent, timely conversation. I don't usually go a day without checking Metafilter [], Kuro5hin [], and not least Slashdot (you know where []!)

      These sites announce and discuss news, happenings and issues on average much sooner and with much more intelligence than more common news and media outlets - showing a wide variety of opinions and viewpoints on everything. It's easy to spot important comments, ideas, and trends when you've got the benefit of community discussion to fill out the picture. Some of these sites use voting and moderation to help elevate messages that need to be seen to the users' eye, allowing them to easily find the highlights of any discussion or issue.

      There are even specialty "blogs" that offer information on more specific areas of interest. The state of the art in blogging and scripting in general is being developed and discussed right in front of your eyes at Dave Winer's Scripting News []. Scripting News focuses on scripting languages (python primarily) and blogging using the Radio Userland [] system, a rich weblogging environment that allows the interface and performace of sites to be scripted and adjusted as much as you like. It can utilize live news feeds from other systems and sources, as well. The New York Times recently agreed to distribute content to sites using Radio. Winer's site highlights the technological aspects of running blogs and gives a lot of good information and tools for creating incredible sites using technologies like XML-RPC, SOAP, python, and others. The links to other sites for their comments and viewpoints also provide a good view of issues and the community in general.

      Celebrities are even doing it: Adam Curry [] of MTV and broadcast fame does with great results and Wil Wheaton [] runs a pretty good site using another blogging system called Movable Type []. There are some pretty professional sites springing up using the tools available.

      The timeliness of sites like Slashdot and Metafilter keep participants up to date and informed on relevant issues. We all know that to be true.

      The types of functionality available to the blogging community cover a wide span of needs and purposes. If all you want is a journal that a couple of people can read - you can have that. If you want to have a place to store all of your bookmarks and discuss and share them with others - you can have that, too. If you want something that will integrate all of your news and discussion - you can have it. If you want to compete with Big Media, you're fully free and capable of doing just that, as well.

      With such a wide choice of blogging themes, it's easy to see that there is room for much diversity with this technology. All roses may be flowers, but so are dandelions - Ferarris may be cars, but what I'm driving's definitely just a car! "Blog", while a catchy name, is still a broad category. It's like saying "web page" - it could mean anything. Once "blogging" is mainstream, it will be time to make some new categories and descriptions.

  • Blogosphere (Score:5, Interesting)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:17PM (#3657268) Homepage
    There was a pretty good article about the "blogosphere" a week or two ago. Very long, and relatively interesting, especially if you are interested in blogs, journalism, news, and that sort of thing. If you have a blog, you might like it too. If you are interested, I've got interview questions sent off to John Hiler, the author of the blogosphere article. I think he'll be getting back to me in a few days. I'll have the interview posted on [] soon after that.

    There was also another story making the rounds about a week ago about making a living from blogging. I was expecting a lot more from it, i.e., some real details on "how to do it", but it was still a reasonable article. It might give you some ideas. Mileage may vary.

    Last link whore comments: If you haven't seen Blogdex [] or Daypop [], you might want to check them out. Very nice tools to see what it hot in the world of weblogs.
  • hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _ph1ux_ ( 216706 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:19PM (#3657276)
    "most respected journalism schools "

    I dont know about you... but I dont have much respect for journalists - nor berkeley...

    I find that journalists have about as much integrity as lawyers and politicians. I guess thats why those groups run the world... little cunning bastards that do anything for a buck.
    • Here here! And just as anyone can blog, or take journalism classes, they'll let just about anybody teach jouranlism classes (unless you are sharp, have integrity, and other qualities such as being able to identify George Washington's bust in Monticello).
    • Re their integrity, sure--there are some bad apples in every bunch. However, one way journalism is like science is that journalists' output can be checked against the real world. They constantly check up on each other, not out of altruism of course--possibly the reverse, but as long as it works...

      As for teaching them to blog or use computers in any way, I don't envy the teachers. Journalists, like lawyers, politicians, preachers, writers, and some/most teachers (the "word-oriented professions"), live and work in a conceptual world that is non-physical.

      There seems to be a natural antipathy between word-oriented professionals and machinery. Most word-oriented professionals could, or imagine they could, do their job as well in a non-technical society as in ours. I think it derives from the ancient Greek division between philosophy and work.

      This is only a theory. But if you've ever tried to provide tech support to a bunch of reporters you know it's about as easy as convincing cats to become amphibious.
    • I disagree, but you're on the right track. If professional journalists were really into making money that much, they would no longer be journalists.

      What journalists really care about is swaying public opinion. Forget objective reporting; forget "fair and balanced"; If you were in a journalist position, getting paid like you're a monkey at a typewriter, you're going to try to get your viewpoint as a slave to "the man" in there somehow. Do you think that, given their situation, those articles are going to reflect anything but left-wing democratic views? Hardly.

      In early December, Gallup updated a question about the media that it began asking in 1985. Sixty-five percent said news organizations' stories and reports are often inaccurate, while 32 percent said they get their facts straight. Republicans were more likely than Democrats (74 to 54 percent) to say they are often inaccurate. Most polls show that majorities or pluralities believe the media are not biased toward one party or the other. But of those who see bias, more see a Democratic than a Republican slant.
  • by Raunchola ( 129755 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:22PM (#3657291)
    First of all, Michael is right..."blog" has become extremely overused, much like "P2P." But that's besides the point.

    Merely linking to news does not equal journalism. Slashdot isn't journalism. Kuro5hin [] isn't journalism. Yahoo's Full Coverage [] site isn't journalism. Hell, Fark [] isn't journalism. They are link farms. They find and post links to actual news stories across the world. While this makes for an easy-to-read digest of news and information, it does not mean the site becomes a seeming bastion of original journalism.

    Real journalism, IMHO (speaking as one), is going out, researching a story, interviewing people, and putting together a concise unbiased story (keep your media bias arguments until the end of class kids). Journalism is not posting a link to a news story elsewhere, and then adding your own personal opinions or thoughts. While the Berkeley school is trying to avoid this, putting a "blog" label on it won't make any difference. Major news sites, like the New York Times [] and the Washington Post [] already post their news to the Internet in real time. Some even include "Comment on this story" links as well.

    Take away the personal opinions and rambling links, and you don't have a so-called "blog." You have an online news site, just like the big boys. Calling it a "blog" doesn't give any more "hipness" or credibility.

    I wish everyone would get over this stupid "BLOGS ARE THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM" crap. You know what? They aren't.
    • Slashdot isn't journalism. Kuro5hin isn't journalism.

      You make some pretty broad statements here, and, IMO they suggest you either make these statements too lightly or you really don't understand journalism. On some level articles written by journalists are simply an array of collected facts, organized in such a way as to tell a story.

      /.'s (and to a lesser extent k5) problem is that often the story is one fact and the link is simply to a single other piece of journalism. When multiple links are collected, as is also often the case, the story enters a gray area.

      I am not a journalist. I am a scientist. I have, however, written several stories for the stanford daily [] as an interesting side project.

      K5 stories are often researched and contain many facts pulled together into a new and interesting way.

      Just because you link something on the web doesn't make it *not* journalism. BTW - As much as some /.'ers don't like to admit it, Jon Katz is the closest thing /. has to a journalist.

      • Just because you link something on the web doesn't make it *not* journalism.

        You're right. The key is actually putting your own original content with it as well. News outlets such as NBC or Fox will sometimes do stories on things "As first reported in the New York Times," but they will still add their own original content to it as well.

        Sites like Kuro5hin (while they do have some gems) are, more or less, op-ed sites. People link to a story or two, and they'll add their own opinion or summarize the issue, maybe tossing in a few token links with more info. While opinion writing is a part of journalism, it is not journalism. If it was, then your local paper would be nothing but op-ed columns.

        You can toss in as many links as you want. But unless you went out and did your own research and conducted interviews, don't call it journalism. It's link mining.

        ...Jon Katz is the closest thing /. has to a journalist.

        And that's just downright scary.
      • Just because you link something on the web doesn't make it *not* journalism. BTW - As much as some /.'ers don't like to admit it, Jon Katz is the closest thing /. has to a journalist.


    • your denotation may be correct but the connotation is misleading. "link farms", i.e. content selection and summary, is as important as the reporting of original news itself because information is plentiful and an individual's time is scarce. Maybe it is not "journalism", but it is certainly important enough to have classes and even whole courses of study analyzing how it is done and how to do it better.

      perhaps "Blogs are the future of news distribution" would be a better slogan (although personally i believe that something even more P2P, probably more like wikis than blogs, are the future of news distribution)

      oh, and i agree that Slashdot is not a blog -- i like to reserve the word "Blog" for things either more personal (like online journals) or for "web logs", i.e. lists of interesting links that someone or some group has visited. I like to call Slashdot a news discussion board.
    • I agree wholeheartedly. The average personal weblog (can't stand the word "blog") these days is mostly personal rantings. Those that still have the interesting-link approach are still not journalism. If you hold something up (especially someone else's news story) and say "Look what I found!" it's not journalism.

      If you talk to people do your research, and assemble a balanced report to inform the people, that's journalism.

      So, basically, I agree with everything you say. Huzzah.

    • by Bodrius ( 191265 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @12:06AM (#3657709) Homepage
      That's not necessarily a bad thing.

      It doesn't take an in-depth analysis of the news story to make journalism. It only needs to be true, correct, and competently addressed even if it's little more than a footnote.

      Not everything in a newspaper is a front-page story, you know? News companies have limited space and resources to create and publish those marvellously researched pieces you're so fond of. There are also columns, socials, and those collections of AP/REUTERS notes that you find almost as a margin to the "big news" and compose 90% of what's happening in the world.

      "Online news sites" are similar to these last. They condense information as much as possible while trying to give a non-misleading picture of what it is about (and usually fail), so that interested readers can do their own research and find out more.

      Blogs with active comment systems are a mix of these with "open-eds" and "letters to the editor".

      But Blogs may also be more than just a collection of links. While Slashdot follows this pattern, it's mostly because that's what it does best and/or what the community values (witness the popularity, on the other hand, of Jon Katz).

      Kuro5hin, for example, follows more closely the pattern of a magazine or publication. MLPs are similar to the link collections (or AP notes), while the rest of the site is often populated by articles where the links are secondary to the argumentative content... which is in some cases not entirely about the current emotional state of the poster. Original content that is not a substitute for group therapy is possible in a blog, after all.

      The advantage of blogs is that they provide an immediate source for the reader to do their research, so they don't necessarily have to accept the incomplete, inevitably misleading piece of news they were given. Users can interact with each other and with the author exchanging sources of research, and even correcting intentional and unintentional errors in the article.

      The disadvantage is that, being posted by amateurs, they degenerate into diaries with links... that is, a throughly unentertaining and unresearched "opininion column" on electronic media.

      Communities formed around these throughly biased weblogs (witness Slashdot), and will react against the removal of that bias because it gives them "a sense of community". They enjoy the non-journalistic flavor of the blog, but that does not mean a journalistic endeavor cannot benefit from the blog format. Rather, it means it must resist the temptation of pandering to the public which is probably greater than in other formats because of the greater level of feedback.

      A journalistic "blog" should not foster that bias and would probably be unable to provide any "sense of community" while being competent in the journalistic sense, but one or many biased communities could be "resident" in a journalistic blog, though, much in the same way Clans or Guilds are specific to some online games.

      I agree with you, though. Blogs are not the future of journalism, nor should they be. Hyperlinks are the future of journalism and should be the present; Blogs are just one of the ways of getting that into the heads of stubborn journalists half a century too late.
    • Sure, most blogs are diaries, or opinion, or rant, and blogrolling for the most part is an added value link farm.

      But one of the real virtues of blogging by the old media, is the introduction of new feedback loop, the increased immediacy of the the actual report, and the removal of layers between the reporter and participants or analysts.

      Have you ever been present at an event reported in the old media? You know then how different your perception, as a participant or as an expert was from the perception as reported by the journalists. What is important about blogs are the discussions and the mailto links that let you converse with the reporter and bring in new information or new perspectives.

      In the past, the journalist went to his rolodex of so called analysts (Giga) or so called neutral experts. But there was no such thing as a neutral expert. And in the past you might be able to get your letter written to the editor, but did that really affect the reporting?

      Journalistic blogs, those with discussions with the authors or editors are wonderful. Immediate. New feedback loops. The story is reported much more accurately, clearly, and timely. Pros and cons can connect with each other in a dialogue in ways they never could before.

      It's a community, it's dialogue, it's no longer a monologue, it's a symbiosis of peers, it's a well informed conversation, not just a well-meaning, pc, overview.
    • You don't get it. The difference between a new site and a blog is that news is organized and corporate and blogs are disorganized, distributed and run by individuals or small groups. When people say blogs will replace journalism, they mean that people will get their news not through a top-down combination of editorial and a filter over Reuters, but through a bottom up propogation of news from the people who witnessed it to the people who are interested in it.

      Maybe that will happen, maybe it won't. Some journalists have a more open mind than you do.
    • First of all, Michael is right..."blog" has become extremely overused, much like "P2P."

      And much like "troll". Just because I post something stupid, that doesn't mean I was "trolling for newbies".

  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:31PM (#3657339) Homepage
    This isn't exactly related but then again maybe it is....Is it marketing or journalism? []

    It can be tough to decide how to define something. A blog is a blog is a blog. The material posted by kids about their lives might mean nothing to you but everything to that kid and his/her peers. If you don't like it, move along. Call it a journal or call it something else. Call it a blog, or not. Fine.

    On the other hand, there are some "industrial strength" blogs out there. At a minimum, this is going mainstream, for better or worse. For example, there are blogs written by folks that are employed by Macromedia. Examples...

    Mike Chambers (Flash MX): []

    Vernon Viehe (ColdFusion MX): []

    Matt Brown (Dreamweaver MX): []

    And then there a blogs by the professional folks at MSNBC []:

    Eric Alterman: Altercation
    Michael Moran: World Agenda
    Cosmic Log: Alan Boyle's Diary
    Chris Matthews: Hardball
    Jan Herman: The Juice

    • This isn't exactly related but then again maybe it is.... Is it marketing or journalism? [] []

      I think it's ironic, that in an article about journalism, by someone who's always touting the blog (Dave Winer) there is a *retraction* because he failed to do his basic fact checking!! That, right there, sums up why blogs, and I do like them, are not "journalism".

      Besides, I can't read an article about "Mr. X" with out thinking of Homer Simpson... :)

  • I think that it is good that they are not presuming a hard, definite distinction between the various things people call a blog and "real news."

    After all, a journalist who writes a story is just commiting their own observations to print. Is this so very different from linking to what someone else wrote? By placing the links in a certain order, by carrying certain stories (but never the ones I submit :)), and not carrying others, the person who simply maintains a links page does a very similar service. What other people are saying, even if the thing they are saying is news, is news in-and-of-itself. Calling it mindless link propagation as Michael does, reflects an unjustified contempt for a whole avenue of expression.

    Personal experiences in a personal journal are news to somebody. After all, NY Times Editorials are definitely news. I don't see a hard distinction here.

    Discussion sites may not reflect public opinion in a "scientific" fashion, but they do reflect public opinion, and public opinion is news. Anecdotes, often shared on such sites, are also news. They can also propogate links and contain excerpts from people's personal ruminations (like what you are reading right now.)

    Since all of these things are news, they are all webpages with news. Having temporarily accepted Michael's sub-division, I now reject it, and from hereon out I will just say blogs.

    They'll also debate whether blogs are "a sensible medium for doing journalism, and what does that mean?"

    Feh! What horseshit. Who cares? I think people should spend less time debating what things mean, and more time being ironic. If you can wildly contradict yourself in a single sentence, that is best, but cognitive dissonance can only be a good thing, however long your text may run.

    If it isn't a legitimate medium for doing journalism, we need to find a way to legitimise it, because people are going, increasingly, to be getting their information from blogs. Unless you want to take the stance that what people read and think is not legitimate (common in academia) you've got no choice.
  • by mesozoic ( 134277 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:03PM (#3657445)

    That a journalist's work has to first pass through the scrutiny of his peers and his editors is a key factor in assuring the quality of published information. Blogging might be journalism, but it's Rambo-style -- one man for himself, whatever he writes, gets published. When you're talking about something like the BBC, CNN, or the Wall Street Journal, letting reporters publish on-the-fly might give individuals too much control over what sort of information makes it to the public.

    Now with the Internet growing as a major distribution point for news, perhaps the future will bring us a merger of 'traditional' journalism and web logs: real-time news that, while still going through the standard editing channels, is published as soon as it's put in. The idea of releasing news each day may fade away from the Internet entirely, leaving us with news sources that publish news as soon as it happens. It'd be one more (small) step towards a truly networked form of human civilization.

  • Slashdot is not a "blog"; neither it is a news site. It is a discussion site. It is a meeting place where a group of people with, mainly, similar interests come together to talk about certain issues. The meeting is usually moderated, and people with good things to say are heard, and those who wish to troll a shouted down. All news items are "links" to others' news stories. There is no news on Slashdot. The only news comes from the "comments" of the participants. Besides, not everything mentioned on Slashdot is anywhere close to "news".

    My 2cents.
    • All news items are "links" to others' news stories. There is no news on Slashdot.

      So what you are saying is that the "User X writes" text is not news? Most newspapers summarize wire stories for a large majority of thier national news content in exactly the same way.

      By most definitions "news" just means reports on events; I would say that linking to descriptions of events that people might otherwise not hear about constitutes news.
  • How the editors seem to think that everyone who reads the post automatically knows what they're talking about. How many others had no idea what "blogging" meant?
  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:15PM (#3657490)
    Please, take a look around at your mass media outlets. Really read the articles closely and look for sources. What do you find? Much, if not most of what passes for news comes from official statements and press releases. Sometime's it's damned difficult when reading a news article to find the actual source - it's usually an off-hand clause like "Foo, according to a report by such-and-such organization" or "According to General So-and-so, bar" buried somewhere in the third or fifth paragraph. Frequently, stories may be based off of other stories - "According to the Associated Press, ..." - particularly in TV news. This sort of reporting is no better than what Slashdot provides, and I am, consequently, disinclined to call Slashdot something other than journalism.

    My hunch, in fact, is that considering the various reviews, interviews, and articles, Slashdot's percentage of original content compares favorably with lots of so-called mass media outlets. In fact, it's got a big leg up on mass media insofar as one often finds the people mentioned in the stories, or people with a personal connection to the story, posting comments, giving readers a different perspective on the article. I'm not prone to hyperbole, so I won't call slashdot "visionary" or "groundbreaking" but I do call it "really cool" and, most definitely, "journalism".

    Blogs, too, are journalism. Personal diaries may be the most trivial form of journalism, but it is, at least, reporting. It may not be up to the standards of Columbia, or conformant to the AP style guide, but I've read a lot of crap in "real" news outlets and a lot of informative, if non-traditional, reporting on blog sites. In any case, I'm leery of refusing to call blogs journalism, as it plays into the hands of those who would separate "journalists" from the rest of the public and confer upon them rights that are (IMO) properly invested in us all - particularly freedoms of speech and of the press.

    Consider the case of Paul Trummel [] who has been jailed for refusing to take down articles on his website, on the grounds that he is "not really a journalist." Understand why I'm not so keen on drawing a line between "journalist" and blogger?


  • by Prof.Nimnul ( 583515 ) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:20PM (#3657502) Homepage

    After all, is it a set of standards and proceedures for reporting information, or is it just the actual presenting of information that one discovered/uncovered/learned/etc.?

    An editoral or opinion piece in many major newspapers are good examples, as some of them have the writers actually out covering some sort of story, whether it be government corruption or international tensions or what have you, but the only difference between the editorals and the articles is that the editorals have the author stating their own personal feelings about it, rather than "Just the Facts, Ma'am." Their opinionated pieces are basically the same as something the a guy posts on his website regarding something important to him.

    Similarly, let's say I'm wondering about a topic, so I go out and ask around with some people connected to it, check what records I can find, do fact-checking, and then post my findings on my personal website, would that be journalism? I'm not a professional, and it's posted on a site that's not claiming to be a source of hard news, but all the same, if I followed the same proceedures that any other reporter does, what's the difference if it was read in a newspaper or on the web?

    Very few people believe all the read on the 'Net, for good reason. Similarly, very few people believe all they see on TV, as well, also for good reason.

    The whole concept of what "blogging" really is seems to a rather pointless debate. News can be reported in any format by any person, really -- the means doesn't make the difference. Teaching blog at a school just seems to me more or less showing students one way that a web site can be run, and not an exercise in some new "cutting-edge" journalism technique.


  • ...whether blogging, such as Slashdot, is real journalism or not. I still haven't made up my mind.

    Well, if you have to ask then you're still not sure of what your definition of "reall journalism" is yet!

    Really though, I think /. technically qualifies as real journalism because not all of the stories are from other sites and sources right?

    You're right, I have no clue either.

  • It was a good book, but mostly just a remake of The Idiot's Guide to Rogering.
  • by MoThugz ( 560556 )
    From []...

    1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
    2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
    3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
    4. Newspapers and magazines.
    5. An academic course training students in journalism.
    6. Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.

    What interests me the most is point 3, because most of the time here, people with give their views and opinions of posts. Therefore /. is more suitable to be called a discussion site or forum.
  • My definition of "blog" has always been something like a journal or diary.

    If you're lookin for a top-notch diary site, please allow me to recommend "Digital Expressions" -
  • I find this quite interesting, especially considering the existing controversy over whether blogging, such as Slashdot, is real journalism or not. I still haven't made up my mind.

    That's an odd reminder to make; surely it's a settled matter for this audience. Consider whether you'd ask a Catholic monk if he thought Catholicism was "real religion." Of course, it isn't as weighty a domain, but in both cases it's about the concept being defined by the usage, rather opposed to the presupposition required of your point.

    Slashdot is no less authoritative than CNN and no more than a journalist's daily diary entires, if you let go the notion of a pure objective journalism. Each fulfills a need and an expectation that in the whole provides us with "journalism." Besides, isn't the "blog: is it or isn't it" debate only being conducted through the proxies of media conglomerates? Is a conservative professor going to change my mind about covering any topic I choose and taking advantage of available technology for delivery?

    Instead of providing a field for the self-preservation instincts of a AOL-TW, let's embrace the newly discovered (but always extant) complexities of journalism as a given.

  • For those of us old enough to remember, the corp-blog phenomenon could turn into an amusing rerun of the mainstreaming of sixties hippie culture by seventies marketing weenies. Macromedia's phrase "the blog strategy" sort of tells it all. The most important thing is sincerity... if you can fake that you've got it made.

    We're gonna need a new buzzword pretty soon that means "painfully lame yet expertly produced synthetic blog". I can't think of one at the moment, but then I don't even know what "leet" means.

    Hey chicks and dudes, let's rap!
  • I see this class as being more about exploring alternative avenues for freelancing then actually being about 'blogging' as a form of journalism.

    There is a decreasing number of jobs available full time on newspapers and in television as more media companies merge and cut staff, especially in rural areas.

    Hence, a need for journalists to become their own employer, and to create freelance opportunities.

    Journalists are also traditionally slow to adopt new technology, and have been particularly apprehensive about the Internet. The blogging class serves two purposes, to give them ideas, and also to show them ways to evaluate Internet information and use new technology.
  • Blogging for Dummies?

    Do you mean to say that it isn't already?
  • "Please draw distinctions between webpages with news, mindless link propagation, discussion sites, personal diaries or journals, etc. "

    Hey, isn't Slashdot all of that and more? ;-)
  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Friday June 07, 2002 @05:46AM (#3658473) Journal
    'Blog'. From 'Web-log'. The 'log' of which derives from shipping navigation. Sailors would throw a lump of wood - the 'log' - into the water and watch it float past to measure the ship's speed. This was written in a book every day, which became called 'the log'.

    'Journal'. From the latin 'Diurnalis', meaning daily. A record kept daily, like a diary, which probably evolves from the same root - latin 'dies', meaning 'day'.

    'Journalism': The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.

    It seems that somehow people putting their journals on the web via a web-log got all up themselves and decided they were 'journalists'. Errr no. Writing a journal does not make you a journalist these days.

    The UCB course mentioned in the article looks more like it will teach on-line journalism, but they've buzzworded it with 'blogging' as a PR exercise. These guys know PR, you see.

    • The UCB course mentioned in the article looks more like it will teach on-line journalism, but they've buzzworded it with 'blogging' as a PR exercise. These guys know PR, you see.

      Looks more like they can spot a trend. When real journalists, start blogging [] (or at least what appears to be similar to blogging, the line keeps getting blurrier), somebody is going to offer a course in how to do it (the technology part, most likely).

      Sure, blogging about news does not make one a journalist. But journalists can blog [], it ain't that tough to do... although some of them will end up writing columns as opposed to actually blogging []. Whatever. It isn't really that important.
  • Not Journalism (Score:2, Informative)

    by reallocate ( 142797 )
    Engaging in journalism -- reporting the news -- implies a committment to a process that emphasizes accuracy and completeness.This process typically includes editorial oversight and review, multiple sources, etc. Blogs and sites like Slashdot do provide new publishing tools, but, by themselves, they are just a means to a possible end, just as blank newsprint has the potential to become a newspaper.

    It isn't a blog, but Slashdot appears to be a direct descendant of BBS systems, with a mix of readers and staff posting material from other sources to a web site that facilitates reader comments. I see little evidence of anything approaching journalism here. Most real blogs that I read are more akin to newspaper columns, rather than straight journalism. Again, there's little evidence of real editorial review, but it is interesting that the blogging community has the potential to enforce some degree of fact-checking

  • Blogging, it would seem to me is an irrelevant term. Journalism and blogging are synonymous. Slashdot has as much right to calling itself journalism as any other periodical. The difference is that one is professional (they make money), and one is amateur.

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