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Are Blogs the Future of Journalism? 363

jnf82 writes "Recently bloggers were part of the forces compelling Trent Lott to resign as Senate majority leader and Dan Rather to apologize to viewers on national television -- leaving many to ponder if blogs could someday supplant traditional journalism. More likely they'll become a 'fifth estate' keeping watch over mainstream media and politics, says Dan Drezner and Henry Farrell in Foreign Policy Magazine's current issue. So will the new media revolution be blogged? 'No,' says Anna Marie Cox, author of Wonkette, 'A revolution requires that people leave their house.'"
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Are Blogs the Future of Journalism?

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  • No. (Score:2, Funny)

    I bet this story is a dupe.
  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Neil Blender ( 555885 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:32PM (#10956871)
    They are the future of unaccountable editorializing.
    • Re:No. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by d3ik ( 798966 )
      Perhaps unaccountable editorials say what needs to be said when no one else is willing to say it. Anonymity and lack of accountability can have their advantages.
      • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        Anonymity and lack of accountability can have their advantages.

        Uh, I hope you are making a joke. Today, we don't have accountability on the internet and much of what passes for "news" is simply rumor or urban legend.

      • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        So if I post a blog message saying that France's government is being fueled by pro-Arab extremists under a false name and refuse to give any sources, my post should still be considered to be valid news? After all, 'a lot' of 'Americans' 'seem to' think this way. Where did I get those phrases? I can't give out my sources. Who am I? I value my anonymity.
        • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Blogs, being unaccountable and sometimes anonymous, make the reader think. The reader is supposed to look at the contents critically and decided whether it's true, false, or a mixture of both. It's a two-way exercise, demanding more intellectual participation by the reader. Mainstream news purports itself to be accountable and non-anonymous, making the reader believe its entire contents, making the reader lazy and prone to judging things in black and white, leading to idiotic statements such as:

          So if I po
          • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MMaestro ( 585010 )
            Blogs, being unaccountable and sometimes anonymous, make the reader think.

            Do they really? Books are supposed to make readers think, yet we have people claiming Uncle Tom's Cabin is racist for its racial slurs despite the time period it was written in and the fact that a black (ex-)slave at the end of the book becomes the 'hero.'

            Fahrenheit 9/11 was supposed to make people think, but instead you ended up with millions of people parading what was claimed in the movie to be a truth against the Bush administrat

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:45PM (#10957018)
      As opposed to accountable editorializing? When's the last time you saw your local newspaper run a signed editorial?
    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:59PM (#10957199) Homepage
      They are the future of unaccountable editorializing.

      How ironic. That entire post is unaccountable editorializing. The fact is, blogs provide an excellent filter for information. Most of it is tripe, but there are informed writer's such as Juan Cole's commentary on Iraq []. The great thing (or bane, depending on your perspective) is that there are enough voices to get a reasonable sampling of public opinion. I don't think blogs will replace traditional journalism because someone still needs to report the information. However, you will see mainstream journalism looking to the Internet more frequently because specialty writers can still scoop them (see Bev Harris at Blackboxvoting). I could go on, but I'm late for class.

      • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by malfunct ( 120790 )
        The problem with blogs is that they don't go through any level of background checks and often don't provide reasonable sources. Not that mainstream media seems to do that these days either.
        • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:30PM (#10957538) Homepage
          I was going to say...mainstream media doesn't do that either. Enough hoaxes have made it into the news...and every single time, some reporter picks up the story, and other news organizations parrot the story verbatim without bothering to check. What about all the other stories, that they don't get caught on?

          And whenever a reporter covers a story that I know about personally, I always see huge errors and misstatements, that would have been easily corrected if the reporter actually gave a shit.

        • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by GOD_ALMIGHTY ( 17678 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:18PM (#10958640) Homepage
          Huh? Which blogs are you reading? Most posts are news analysis, which is always sourced, go check the background yourself. The value of a blogger is no different than the value of a reporter. One just does it for the love. A blogger is just equivalent to some one who writes open source software in their spare time. Many of the well-known bloggers have their own networks of people they use for info. They tend to have at least pro-am expertise if not actual professional expertise in their area. You might be right about the avg joe blog, but to lump all of them into the same category like this is like claiming equivalency between the Linux kernel and any random project on SourceForge. Someone already cited Juan Cole, he actually shows up on the various cable news shows - as an expert, getting to read his opinion on day to day issues, in his area of expertise (Middle East affairs) is much more in depth than even the reporting you get from say - the BBC.

          Is their personal bias and opinion interjected? Of course, that's one of the freedoms that bloggers like about the format. If you still can't recognize the difference between someone's opinionated utterance and their reasoned analysis, you're probably in over your head with the local newspaper's editorial page. I honestly think what people like to describe as bias in the media is a lack of ability to discern what is verifiable and what is speculation. Oh, and if speculation is being bundled as verified information, you're being lied to - see Limbaugh (the original blogger) for examples.

          Actually, the one thing about US mainstream media is that they only go on verified sources. This means that they take the word of governments as more credible than non-governmental organizations, even when the government is lying - see the build up to the Iraq war or torture by US forces for examples. The only dangers that the US media likes to report about are the ones posed by the weak and defenseless, no matter how remote that danger is compared to the 800 pound gorilla that doesn't get covered. Why do you think Americans are more worried about the "urban dressed" kid down the road than the corporate predators already squeezing them?

          Bloggers - ahem, credible bloggers - have the ability to restore some balance to the system. I certainly appreciate the good ones.
        • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Octagon Most ( 522688 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:51PM (#10958913)
          "The problem with blogs is that they don't go through any level of background checks and often don't provide reasonable sources."

          But the beauty of blogs, at least those reasonably credible and well-read, is that they provide for for decentralized authentication. As blogger Ken Layne attested, "We can fact check your ass." In other words, the forces that kept the Trent Lott and Dan Rather stories alive when the mainstream news media were ready to let them rest were the aggregate voices of many bloggers and the sum of the facts they could collect. While any individual blogger does not have the information-gathering or verification resources of a large newspaper or network news division they do have each other. And an often voracious attachment to a story. They fact-check each other, obsessively link to multiple points of view on any given topic, disagree politely, attack cruelly, and eventually form reasoned arguments. Sometimes. Think of how a Slashdot story about a particular topic can bring an expert out of the woodwork with valuable experience to expound upon that very topic. (Yeah, yeah, hold your jokes. You know there's often that needle in the haystack if you can slog through the lame jokes and off-topic rants.)

          If the problem of separating the wheat from the chaff is solved, and we don't develop an unhealthy attachment to sensationalism and partisan bickering, blogs can indeed become the watchdogs of the traditional media.
      • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Woko ( 112284 )

        The fact is, blogs provide an excellent filter for information. Most of it is tripe, but there are informed writer's such as Juan Cole's commentary on Iraq.

        Or you could even read Iraqi's writing their own opinions about Iraq, there's plenty of Iraqi blogs around such as:

        Healing Iraq []

        Iraq the Model []

        Hammorabi []

        Nabil's Blog []

        Iraq at a Glance []

        Road of a Nation []

        A star from Mosul []

    • Re:No. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 )
      They are the future of unaccountable editorializing.

      What's the difference?
    • They are the future of unaccountable editorializing.

      For the most part, I agree. Weblogs do, at least, usually have a place for comments, though, so there's often space for people to criticise the content. It gets ambiguous if the owner starts censoring comments, and also if there's a very biased or unqualified audience. For this reason, I don't think many weblogs are very reliable.

      But a lot of professional journalistic media isn't very different. Much television media, for instance, is ver

  • Why... (Score:5, Funny)

    by which way is up ( 835908 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:33PM (#10956880)
    Why read to an uneducated idiots opinion when you can read to an educated idiots opinion.
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:33PM (#10956883) Homepage
    Blogs aren't journalism. They aren't about reporting the news, they're about commenting on it. I realize that a lot of people these days have real trouble understanding the difference between news and commentary, but there is a fairly significant divide between the two.

    Journalists go out and find out what's going on, they (hopefully) check their sources out and get confirmation and input from both sides and then report on it. Commentators -- and this includes bloggers -- are consumers of what journalists generate. They add (or, some might argue, remove) value by way of interpretation.

    Remember way back in like 1996 when we all expected the internet to give voice to the common man? Create a new golden age in the spirit of the pamphlet writer that would have Patrick Henry and the rest of the printing press crew smiling down on us? Well, that's what the blogs are -- the fact that some are regularly insightful/interesting/ignorant/funny/biased enough to gain relative popularity should not obscure that fact or cause us to think they're something beyond that.

    Aside from that, I think it's important not to get too carried away with this whole "we busted Dan Rather" thing. Frankly, it reminds me of when Drudge got out in front of the Monica Lewinski thing; he got the story out, sure, and suddenly we were hearing all about how internet media was going to come out and crush the slow lumbering ten-minute-ago types on TV. But, as it turned out, that was *one time* as opposed to the hundreds of times before and since where he's been completely off-base and his "Flash!" stories have vanished without a trace.

    • by ViolentGreen ( 704134 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:40PM (#10956967)
      Well said. The problem is that most "news" blogs report commentary with the news (or as the news.) The same thing happens on slashdot. How often do we see a summary on slashdot which is flat out incorrect or is worded to put an spin that was not present in the original article?
    • You hit the nail on the head with Drudge. Here is a blog that got it's owner sorta-kinda famous, but it's still just a blog. No matter how many fedora's with a scrap of paper saying "Press" Drudge wears, he's still just a blogger.

      But I look at blogs as editorials, like the kind you find in newspapers (remember them?). Not "news" or "reporting" per-se, but opinion. Sometimes learned opinion to be sure, but just opinion.
    • by Twirlip of the Mists ( 615030 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:47PM (#10957051)
      They aren't about reporting the news

      Actually, most of the reporting coming out of Ukraine is coming in blog form. While the AP has a three-man bureau in Kyiv and the New York Times has a couple of stringers in the country, the vast majority of the actual first-person reporting is coming out via the dozens of blogs maintained either by Ukrainians or by Westerners who are living there.

      Interestingly, the same is true of both Iraq and Iran, although there's recently been a huge crackdown in Iran.
      • by say ( 191220 ) < minus caffeine> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:02PM (#10957241) Homepage

        Maybe the majority in straight amount of information, but not at all the majority of what the people of western nations get to watch on TV, read in newspapers etc. All channels I've got (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, CNN, EuroNews) have correspondents in Ukraine.

        After all, this is Europe's second largest country.

      • What are you talking about Twirp? Might have been true before the election controversy started but all the major networks have had people there since the dispute started. I know the BBC and CNN do. CNN's Jill Dougherty has interviewed Yushenko among other.

        I hate to point it out to you but bloggers coming out of these places are likely to be heavily biased, telling one side of the story, and are no more believable than ... oh say ... your posts on Slashdot are. Of course the networks and major paper aren
    • I tend to agree. Blogs are more often like the editorial pages of the newspaper. They give anyone and everyone a chance to comment on events, point out things others might have missed, or just basically rant about things.

      Hmmmm, that sounds a lot like Slashdot. ;-)
    • Thank you.

      I couldn't quite phrase what ticked me the most in this summary but it definately is wrong and bad. Your comment summed all my annoyances quite nicely :P
    • I think you're about right. But you neglect blogs like groklaw and lawrance lessig, etc. In these blogs, there's opinion, but there's also links to court filings, and arcana that are never mentioned in the traditional media. Groklaw in particular has become a true primary source that even the media use for facts. Blogs can serve niche areas perhaps better than the niche print/"professional" media can.
    • Journalists aren't even journalism anymore either. They aren't about reporting the news, they're about giving equal time to opposing viewpoints, even if one is completely wrong and not worth acknowledgement.

      Gore is a liar because he said he exaggerates somewhat and said he invented the internet, and Bush is a liar because he has a severe and debilitating aversion to truth. But both are 'valid' viewpoints given to equal time, even if one has far greater reprecussions. Another great example is the 'reporting
      • > 'Journalists' no more serve a function anymore than Google News reprinting press releases. Commentary has replaced fact-checking and persistence and integrity in the media.

        Blogs aren't reporting either. They're jouranlism. But what passes for "reporting" ("get the facts") these days is really "journalism" ("spin the interpretation"), and that's the problem.

        And because nobody in the MSM fact-checks... How many times have hoax headlines from Fark and The Onion made the 6 o'clock news so far this

    • Blogs aren't journalism.

      Quite right. But. Is journalism, in its present form, as useful as blogs?

      Journalists ... (hopefully) check their sources out and get confirmation and input from both sides and then report on it.

      The keyword here is "hopefully". The problem is today, this doesn't happen as often, especially the "input from both sides" part. Today, too many journalists will put any number of spins on their stories, and will even pick and choose the stories with the goal of maximizing profit and no
    • The traditional journalists (newspapers,CNN etc) have said that they don't like blogging because bloggers do not subscribe to journalistic ethics.

      The question though is do traditional journalists still subscribe to the ethics that they hold so dear? News is now "infotainment". The emphasis is on getting better viewer ratings etc rather than on getting the truth. Journalists are controlled by the corporations, whitehouse, military etc. They have the right to free speach, but they know that if they don't say

  • by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:33PM (#10956886) Journal

    Foreign Policy magazine is being linked to from Slashdot? What's next? Martha Stewart Living?

  • A revolution requires that people leave their house.>

    This article totally pisses me off as a large over-realistic view of back-patting feel-gooders. Say, lets go knock on the author's door and tell him what we think of him!

    Oh wait, I have to do laundry today nevermind.

  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:35PM (#10956907)
    Anyone can blog.

    Thats the power of blogging and the weakness of blogging.

    If you can use relevance algorithms you can find the good content, and that content has been the power behind a great deal of breaking news and commentary this year.

    PageRank can serve as a de facto reputation system, combined with tools like Slash's own metamoderation.

    In any case the death of large, centralized corporate media has been long overdue, our so-called bastions of truth have become nothing more than apologists for the status quo, be it in govt or business.

    • I recently read an article [] in the New Yorker magazine about an influential blog called "The Note."

      They said it was very influential in Washington, DC politics. It is said to be read by the "Gang of 500" political elites.

      I suspect the Drudge Report is another influential one. The page rank is an effect of influence and not a cause.

      Page ranking can measure who's web site links to a blog. But it doesn't measure who reads it and how influential they are.
  • by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:36PM (#10956914)
    The problem is that blogs are filled with misinformation. People need news companies to filter out the crap.

    Perhaps blogs will some day be fact checked, and reliable.
    • I think what you meant to say was:

      The problem is that news companies are filled with misinformation. People need blogs to filter out the crap.

      Perhaps news companies will some day be fact checked, and reliable.

      There, that's better.
    • People need other people they trust to filter out the crap. Many would argue that trusting someone *OTHER* than a news company to filter out crap for you would result in better news.

      Blogs are new, and there are a lot of them, and quality for the majority is low. But probably, a few years down the road, some blogs will develop a reputation for being good at filtering out the crap, and those "blogs" will become the new "news organizations".

      The current news organizations started as many, many, smaller news
      • exactly! News companies are just generators, and they will report on what is happening whether or not it is relevant to the end consumer. I don't care what the weather is like in Florida, unless there happens to be a hurricane. Putting a filter between the news source and my screen will make sure that only things of interest to me are competing for screen time. It's up to the consumers to decide which filters(blogs/sites like /.) are worth listening to.

        Further, if 2000 people are writing about a partic
        • How do you filter out the crap? If you read all of the blogs (or even a large proportion of them, let alone a majority), you'll spend hours on it. If you get someone else to point you to a selection of blogs that provide a balanced set of differing but objective viewpoints, you're in the same situation that exists today in traditional media (a middleman is performing value judgements on the raw newsfeeds before presenting them to you). There is no easy solution to the problem of quantity; it's why journalis
      • I really don't get it, all the main news organization have lied or purposely omitted facts, and those were not small fact or stuff that didn't matter. Just check project censored [] to see a few examples for your self. And people go crying blogs should not be trusted, sure I would agree with you if you said 99% of the blogs can't be trusted, but it dosen't mean that all of them are bad. Some can actually be better then fox or cnn.
        • 1. If a mainstream media outlet publishes enough crap that people get fed up and their ratings sink, they'll do something to remedy it.

          2. If a blog does the same thing, no one cares, because public outrage has no effect on the blogger's wallet.

          Unless it's something you're paying for, you're not going to care that much about it. (directly or indirectly, and yes, even though it's broadcast TV, you are paying for it. (Unless you don't buy any of those products that are giving them money for advertisements.)
    • People need to get over the idea of there actually being a perfectly "objective" source or viewpoint - it doesn't exist in the news world any more than it exists in the world of science. The observer effects the outcome - it's as simple as that. Everyone has an agenda.

      Bottom line: you need to read enough that you can filter out the crap for yourself. There is no such thing as a fact checked and reliable source.
    • The mass media is also filled with misinformation. Worse, it's often filled with disinformation: false information that's deliberately used to mislead or confuse. See Mapes, Mary.

      If you're looking for a reason why blogs are inferior to the mass media, you're going to have to dig deeper.
  • I hope that they'll encourage people to feel more involved with their community and government etc. This seems to be the ideal place to plug the plans [] for the new Blog:Vote [] which will try and encourage bloggers and general web-users to discuss policy issues at the next UK General election.
  • No (Score:2, Flamebait)

    Blogs are the Weekly World News of journalism. For every useful piece of information you get from one there's 10,000 dorks out there flaming about how Bush is Hitler and Haliburton is running the government. They have no credibility and are just soap boxes for trolls.
  • by archipunk ( 649241 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:37PM (#10956926) Journal
    Blogs are just another new medium, and will find their place in the larger infosphere.

    Radio didn't replace newspaper journalism, nor did television replace radio journalism. Each developed to the strengths of its medium.

    Blogs are merely a form of journalism that best exploit the features of their medium.

  • answer: no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kin_korn_karn ( 466864 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:37PM (#10956934) Homepage
    Blogs are the future of op-ed, not journalism.
    Journalism might be published on the web but it's still going to be more about facts than about opinions.
  • by DebianDog ( 472284 ) <[dan] [at] []> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:38PM (#10956942) Homepage
    It has been posted on 5+ blog sites. "News verified"

    Instant Urban Legend News thanks to RSS and Google... LOL
  • by beeplet ( 735701 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:39PM (#10956954) Journal
    Blogs may become more popular, but I don't think they will completely supplant the traditional media. When you buy a newspaper, for example, part of what you pay for is the assumption that the stories are timely, accurate, unbiased, and fact-checked. With blogs, it's up to the reader to be discriminating.

    So while some people may be happy reading all the information available to them and coming to their own conclusions, I think there will always be people who are willing to pay a traditional news service to separate the wheat from the chaff. There will probably also (unfortunately) be people who get all their "news" from blogs, but don't make the distinction between trustworthy and non-trustworthy sources. Since I would expect this to the majority of casual internet-readers, I worry that a lot of people will come away misinformed.

    I think blogging does have a role to play as a check on the integrity of the traditional media, but I don't think it is anywhere near time for it to take over completely.
    • When you buy a newspaper, for example, part of what you pay for is the assumption that the stories are timely, accurate, unbiased, and fact-checked.

      Hate to nitpick with a good post but the only unbiased section in most newspapers is the crossword. Personally I think part of what you pay for in a newspaper is that you trust their commentary, which some would argue is just finding someone who agrees with your own bias. We all have bias.

    • I think blogs are a part of journalism that has been lost recently, the adversary.

      Too many "reputable" news sources only go to one source for a story. For instance when Tom Ridge raises the terror threat immediately after the Democratic Convention people report on his speech and that's it. They take him at his word, and fail to do any leg work on the information that led to his decision until after they say we are all in more danger.

      What blogs are giving journalism is an adversary. More news people are ha
    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:12PM (#10957360)
      When you buy a newspaper, for example, part of what you pay for is the assumption that the stories are timely, accurate, unbiased, and fact-checked. With blogs, it's up to the reader to be discriminating.

      I'm sorry, but that's part of the reason why I don't even get a newspaper anymore.

      Hvae you not ever talked to anyone that has a story with something they have been involved in? Just about every time, the newspaper will get facts wrong - sometimes very significant facts. I'm not even talking about bias here, just the plain reality that most newspaper articles seem to have simple mistakes that go unremarked on mostly.

      I would say the resposibility has always been on the reader to cast a critical eye on what is being reported. The newspapers offer a dangerous illusion that you can relax in this regard.

      The good thing about blogs is that if they get something wrong - they will generally be corrected quickly. In reports coming from Iraq for example some bloggers thought they saw cannisters of Sarin gas in a picture from stockpiles captured, but other people pointed out quickly that the cannisters were in fact vials of serum to protect against Sarin, and they story died - in a matter of hours, with bloggers who reported it initally issuing updates correcting themselves. Compare and contrast to Rathergate (as the blogger world likes to refer to the incident) where Rather would not back off the story for weeks, or to things wrong in a newspaper that might see a small retraction a week later in some part of the paper you'd never read, and certainly not with the story you might have clipped out.
    • "part of what you pay for is the assumption that the stories are timely, accurate, unbiased, and fact-checked"

      I find this comment fascinating. I consume fringe media like candy and one of the most common things I hear about is the media bias.

      Tune into the pacifica broadcasts and you hear about how the industrial military government complex has infiltrated the media to the extent that they are controlling what words are used. They also flame the "mainstream media" for not telling the real story about ju
  • Someone should start a blog that keeps the community up-to-date on the latest news from the technology world.

    News on games, programming, evil corps attempting to charge licenses for popular open source operating system kernels, and when there isnt much news to reports, it could just present the older news again....

    Now.... what to call such a blog...
  • According to this Tech Web article. [], Blog is the Word of the Year.

    Prediction for next year's pet phrase: "Old people in Korea".

  • by Xofer D ( 29055 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:40PM (#10956970) Homepage Journal
    Considering this is posted on a blog claiming to be a news site, this is clearly from the slashdot-irony-meta-dept.
  • 'No,' says Anna Marie Cox, author of Wonkette

    Can somebody explain to me, please, why we're quoting a harpy whose chief claim to fame is dick and ass jokes?

    "Is the economy improving? 'No,' says Lashonda Jefferson, whore who walks the corner of Sunset and 3rd."

  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:42PM (#10956991) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, the 2004 USA Election has been a victory of FUD over Facts [].

    The mainstream forth estate news organizations, on both sides, have utterly failed to hold either Democrats or Republicans accountable for claims that diverge widely from the known facts. In cases where journalists have made a consistent argument, the news organization has allowed that position to be "shouted down" by political camp followers repeating the same lies over and over again though the same outlet. In those same replies, there was very rarely comments by the news organization when known facts obviously contradicted the opinion. Many news organizations seem unwilling to publicly chastise either party for continuing to avoid addressing serious questions when the facts do not concur. The result has been an outright failure of the concept of journalistic ethics [].

    Some alternative sources, be they partisan or bipartisan organizations, individuals, websites, documentaries, forums or the blogosphere, have done a better job at holding both sides accountable. Sadly, even the most popular alternative source reaches a small fraction of the audience covered by the mainstream media. However, to even that small fraction, those same sources have utterly failed to present an overall palatable, concise and coherent position to the opposing or undecided viewers.

    The resulting output from both mainstream and alternative sources has only polarized each sides opinion of each other, further dividing the nation.

    Democracy is effective only when a large majority of voters are capable of making an informed choice. In my opinion, the majority of voters, despite who they voted for, were badly served by those organizations who claim they are responsible for keeping the public informed. It's not as if the same could not be said for past elections in any country, but this election cycle the "Whopper" mud slinging [] has been so much worse than any election since the introduction of television.

    What does this mean for the tech industry []?

    In a lot of ways, both sides campaigns are mirrored by Microsoft's unabated campaign of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt [] ( commonly referred to in the information technology sector by the acronym FUD ). Microsoft's advocates probably consider the use of the same strategy by both Democrats and Republicans a green light to continue to spread FUD [], despite the evidence [] which contradicts [] the claims, including Microsoft's own internal research []. Any forum attached to an article that even hints at Linux being used on the desktop results in a similar barrage of FUD that is familiar in form to that spouted by the political camp followers. Microsoft's advocates claim the same thing happens whenever Microsoft's record of security is mentioned.

    Whether choosing a political or consumer platform, it is possible to make an informed choice when the mainstream political or technical media performs its role to certain ethical standards.

    From the International Federation of Journalists []:


    Adopted by the Second World Congress of the International Federation of Journalists at Bordeaux on 25-28 April 1954 and amended by

    • In my experience, bloggers rarely claim to be objective. People are voicing opinions. Journalists, on the other hand, claim to be objective truth seekers but they seem to get everything wrong. Why is it that whenever they write/talk about something you know something about, they're dead wrong? One has to assume that's the normal standard and that they get away with it because most people don't notice most of the time.
  • by kuwan ( 443684 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:45PM (#10957030) Homepage
    As was demonstrated in Dan Rather's Memo flap, bloggers can sometimes be good fact checkers. In that instance people from all over the Internet scoured over what turned out to be fake documents. One person would offer his expertise and another would do the same. Eventually some people were able to contact real experts in the field and get them to verify that the documents were fake. Eventually the mainstream media took notice and the rest is history.

    But bloggers are definitely not journalists. At best they offer their opinions on the news of the day, correct factual problems in news that was reported, and they also serve as a rallying point for other like-minded individuals. At worst though, blogs can be full of rumormongoring, hate and just noise. They won't be replacing any journalists any time soon, though their diligence may get one fired every now and then.

    Sounds like a scam, but it works. []
    Free Flat Screens [] | Free iPod Photo [] | Free Nintendo DS []
  • @ Home (Score:3, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:46PM (#10957035) Homepage Journal
    'A revolution requires that people leave their house.'

    What about the "stay at home" revolution? Doesn't that one count?
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebbomega ( 410207 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:46PM (#10957046) Journal
    It's not like the "mainstream" media is going to be ousted due to bloggers. More often than not, a news blog will merely link offsite to a more mainstream news site. I really like Google News simply because it gives you plenty of options as to which news source you choose to listen to. Take Google News []/ It's like a newspaper except that it's updated frequently (like, on a minute-by-minute basis), or a TV broadcast except you don't need to watch it when they tell you to.

    The news media will still find ways of making money... usually the same way they always have: Advertising. Granted, there are problems with the blog system.... Even here for example, slashdot pulled a Silly user bug [] up to the front page of slashdot with a heading saying that Firefox was not as stable as we originally thought, thus sending a hint of FUD along with the release of Firefox.

    That being said, at google news the story about Firefox's release and how it has started to kick IE's ass sat on the front page for a good number of days. In fact, as of this posting, it's still 11th [] on the Science/Tech page.

    Crap. I realize this is starting to sound like a plug for Google News... but christ... IT'S GOOD. It ranks the same way that it ranks web pages, which means the news stories people are talking about the most get put on the front page. Again, this isn't always reliable, but what single news source is? At least with Google news they have a "all 523 related" link so you can try to corroborate between different news sources and see if you can inch out the truth from those.

    Blogs just seem a smarter way to distribute news. The nice thing about this application of the internet (as opposed to say... MP3s) is that stuff like this is likely to get full backing from the news industry. After all, news blogs are just trying to serve the same purpose as the news media: Inform people as to what's going on in the world.
  • by CyberHippyRedux ( 687568 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:47PM (#10957050) Homepage
    With a single-party controlling the Executive & Legislative, and arguably in charge of the Judiciary, combined with a virtual Plutocracy in the ownership of the major media outlets, the U.S. needs to have SOMETHING to counter the propoganda. So far, Blogs have done the best job of filling in this need.

    I count Slashdot in this group, especially with the coverage of the electronic voting fiasco starting here long before the election. The mainstream media have had very little coverage of the voting irregularities in Ohio and Florida, but the memes are alive due to dKos and Wonkette, among others.

    And where would be without the power of Fark???? (only slightly kidding)

    Oh, and Wonkette is full of it on this subject. Revolutions can happen in any form, not just "people in the street" - in fact, in the U.S. today marching for your cause is the most sure way to get ignored - "who cares about what all those hippies think?" is the common reaction, negating any gains made by the exposure.

    Revolution happens most commonly through Evolution, and the Blogosphere is evolving on a daily basis. Don't write their obituary before they've reached the peak!

  • 'A revolution requires that people leave their house.'

    What about a revolution in revolution making... :-) a meta-revolution, or pehaps a revolution relotion-wise. Uff...
  • Wiki, not blogs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by db3d ( 572106 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:48PM (#10957077)
    I think the future of journalism is Wikinews [] More info []
  • "Blog? What the Hell is a blog; but a clincally depressed woman who I am not going to sleep with telling me about her day! Blog is the sound men make when they are performing oral on each other."
  • by ( 213219 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:51PM (#10957104) Journal
    To me blogs are like the old time soap box in the park. Any yahoo can "take his turn" and everyone knows that what is said is one person's opinion. It is a valid and perhaps important method of communication but it lacks impartiality and fact-checking. It isn't hard hitting journalisim backed up with facts and the reputation of a corporation.

    I'm not discounting blogs - they are an important part of my day. I just know that if I read something on 'em, I have to do my own checking.

    Still, I think they fall short of being journalisim. Hell, people even sometimes read what I write! Me, mister nobody. And people read me.
  • Until bloggers start finding/reporting the stories instead of just spreading and spinning them, the answer is no.
  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:51PM (#10957106) Homepage
    So will the new media revolution be blogged? 'No,' says Anna Marie Cox,'A revolution requires that people leave their house.'"

    Yeah, and it used to be the case that to make a purchase you had to leave your house. Yawn. I'm bored of people who say that it's only revolution if people bleed, it's only activism if you spend a night in jail, it's only significant if it's significant in the particular way prescribed by the self-appointed arbiter of meaningfulness. What if there's a revolution in revolutions? What if suddenly people are free to assign their OWN notions of worth to their actions and the consequences thereof? "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, "... Cox's attempt to pose as an authority sounds like the laughter/derision of stage two, just before "then they fight you".

    • According to your sig, it's the stage just before "???". I guess this means that in the future, all blogs will contain utter gibberish. Although it looks like this particular revolution has already happened.
    • Yeah, and it used to be the case that to make a purchase you had to leave your house. ... I'm bored of people who say that it's only revolution if people bleed, it's only activism if you spend a night in jail, it's only significant if it's significant in the particular way prescribed by the self-appointed arbiter of meaningfulness.

      The original poster's first statement gives away the "blogosphere" mentality. Blogging to information is like dot-coms were to business. Like online companies, blogs are a grea

    • I don't think that was what she meant. Perhaps sweat would be a more appropriate necessity - instead of staying in front of the computer screen and scanning the internet for information before rehashing it and adding your own opinion, you have to work to find facts that aren't necessarily already posted on the web. Go places, make phone calls, interview people, videotape events, etc. With so few news sources available to bloggers, other than the mainstream media that is generally dismissed as being unreliab
  • Blogs ARE the news! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by which way is up ( 835908 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:51PM (#10957111)
    The mainstream media doesn't do reporting anymore. The blogosphere allows for a lot of crap, but through that crap comes a lot of valuable research. How many Iraqis are allowed to give their opinions on the nightly newscasts? Yet I can chose any number of Iraqi blogs and get a point of view that I would never see on the evening newscast - and because of it I've learned things about Iraqi culture and the situation there that the media would never have time to delve into.
  • Blogs are biased commentaries, they do have their place and always will but they cannot completely replace traditional journalism. To make a comment you have to have something to comment on. It might be nice to think you can write an insightful article about anything in the world sitting behind a computer but that is not correct. Journalists don't just write what they think, they investigate, meet people and travel to visit their subject. All of this gives a greater insight than any blogger can manage.
  • No, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Combuchan ( 123208 ) * < minus pi> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:53PM (#10957124) Homepage
    If anything, they do provide some sort of equilibrium that's been lacking in the top-down, spoon fed to the masses nature of most traditional media sources.

    In the old days, when the newspaper was wrong or simply not paying attention, you could send a pithy letter to the editor and hoped it gets published, depending on his humility and the risk he wants to take of losing a few kneejerk ignorant subscribers. In other words, fat chance.

    Now, when the media's wrong, you have your own public forum to soundoff in any way you please--be it the one sentence the editor might publish, or the ten-page diatribe that would never go anywhere on its own. Likely, there will be others that think the same way you do. And when a simple Google search by the interested public, a government official, or that newspaper editor can connect those opinions by a simple query and actually look deeper into the story, we thus have the option for real media accountability. And that is the real power of blogging.

  • While some blogs are quite good, I believe that they should be looked at by what they are: online diaries and commentary.
    If we went back a few years, the blogging equivalent would be scrapbooking (which is also very big in certain areas). People are sharing their experiences, opinions, interesting events, reflections, etc. However, scrapbooking is still just a hobby.

    Although the strict definition of journalism does apply to blogs (" The periodical collection and publication of current news; the business

  • They can make us focus on only part of a story. Dan Rather is resigning in part due to the controversy surrounding the bogus documents he used in a story sbout Bush's military record. Although most people agree that the documents were forged, hardly anyone says that the underlying story (that Bush did not meet his National Guard responsibilities) was false.

    In short, Rather got the story right, but all anyone talks about is the forged documents.

  • I see no difference in content between a blog and an opinion section of any newspaper. When blogs report "news" they will become "news sites". When "news sites" place their opinions on the web, they become "blog sites".

  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:59PM (#10957190) Homepage started in 1999 to plan and chronicle the "Battle in Seattle" (WTO protest). Since then, the's have been planning and reporting protests around the world. If that's not "leaving the house", I don't know what is.

    I heard Ana Marie's testimony live on C-Span radio, and was underwhelmed. She spoke her own personal point of view, which was that bloggers just get on the web and give their opinion on the news. She, her immediate audience, and evidently Slashdot editors, thought she was speaking for all bloggers. She was not speaking for blogs such as mine (,,,,,,, etc., etc. that just try to get at the truth the mass media ignores, hides, or even sometimes buries after the fact.

    In terms more peaceful than the Battle, I personally have "left the house" since 2000 thanks to blogs. Disenchanted with Bush and Gore, I discovered the Constitution Party and have gathered ballot access signatures and/or worked the polls ever since (2000, 2002, and 2004). I don't believe I am alone in such active participation, especially if we take the high voter turnout this year as an indicator.

    Another way bloggers and those with similar political affiliations have been "leaving the house" is get-togethers through Revolutions start with such meetings.

    The lack of a physical presence in the U.S. over the 2004 vote fraud is distressing -- in contrast to Ukraine. ANSWER is planning a U.S. inaugural day permitted protest -- but that's too late. Something (and here I admit I am taking the passive voice) should have been arranged for prior to the electoral college vote. Wonkette may have a small point after all, but it's a cheap shot overall. We're a lot better off and more informed with the blogs, and people are getting more involved, not less.

  • What people forget is that a radical message is still a radical message. Just because you have the ability to have millions read your latest crackpot theory doesn't make it any more likely for those masses to believe it than it does in the real world.

    Afterall, if you were to believe the blogs, W would have gotten his ass kicked in the 2004 election. Whilst they have established a certain level of power, they are still not news, and the masses know it. And this is coming from someone who'se had stories pos

  • Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegrue76 ( 211065 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:04PM (#10957269) Homepage

    Next question, please.
  • Wonkette's a twit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ediron2 ( 246908 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:09PM (#10957324) Journal
    The more I read or hear from Anna Marie Cox (wonkette), the more I'm beginning to think she's a twit:

    Who the hell needs to leave a house to have a revolution? That's the stupidest non-sequiter bit of reasoning I've ever read! Most revolutions start with a letter or a manifesto or a little red book, not gadflying about or whatever it is she means by that rebuttal. An idea, written large, creates a revolution. And blogs are pretty damn good at trafficking in ideas.

    Her roots are in journalism, yet she's quick to admit she got fired from several journalism jobs. So, why do we care what she thinks? I'm not sure if I should declare her inexpert or (like many journalists) biased. Either way, thumbs down.

    She assuredly is not helping the larger media problem of distracting attention from real, substantive discussions about issues. For her, it's not just gab about process, but also sex talk thrown in. Sex sells, but disingenuously marketing oneself as a political wonk and getting famous by resorting to gossip and sex... that's lame.

    Right here [] she even makes a point of saying she's trying to be like The Daily Show, yet she wanders around in the political weeds unable to provide any depth or insight about much more than gossip or process. Neither matters, and until she changes neither should she.

    She refuses to allow comments on her blog. This, by itself, isn't a bad thing, but it seems to be a self-indulgence that is found more with journalists refusing to relenquish control. It's careful packaging (cough cough--marketing!) ahead of rhetoric and intelligent discourse.

    In short: she's either ET or People Magazine for blogdom. Fluff, not substance. Or, as I said: she's a twit. If you want to really talk politics, marginalize her and let's move on. She's demonstrably no expert on politics or revolutionary change.

    Incidentally, she's not alone in misunderstanding blogs: Pandora's box is open, and sometimes experts of the prior paradigm are too close to see things with perspective. Yes, there'll be a revolution. To think otherwise is akin to thinking 'that HTTP stuff' won't matter much. Blogs already are shaking up the publishing industry, and we're nowhere near full public awareness or full potential.
  • by hunterx11 ( 778171 ) <hunterx11@gma i l . com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:25PM (#10957488) Homepage Journal
    The "Mr. X" episode of the Simspons ran here yesterday. When Homer ran out of news, he had to resort to making it up. Slashdot of course, just reposts old news.
  • by Magickcat ( 768797 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:44PM (#10957702)
    Most likely blogs will be the future of generating grass roots media spin. They'd be a great way of getting a nice grass roots campaigns going, so I imagine that PR and propagandists will adopt them more so. Journalism is mainly a branch of marketing and PR nowadays of course. A lovely place for anonymous disinformation, propaganda and smear campaigns etc. It'll probably save governments the trouble of having to put their names to propaganda, so perhaps they'll enjoy the anonymity.

    For the most part however, they'll likely remain the narcisist and egomaniac paradise. Oh, and the last bastion for the various tin hat brigades - born again Christians, UFOlogists, etc.
  • by victor_the_cleaner ( 723411 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:45PM (#10957707)
    I think this ties in nicely...what do journalists think is the future of news?

    Check out EPIC. []

    EPIC is a presentation by the Poynter Institutue on the future of news. It's presented as a documentary from the year 2014. Google buys Amazon, and forms Googlezon...the New York Times goes offline....

    It's an interesting view.

  • God!! I hope not! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Warlock7 ( 531656 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:04PM (#10957911)
    If journalism is going to become an opinion-fest, then the world is quickly coming to an end!

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant