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Thoughts on blogging and journalism

There is a bit of a pack mentality among bloggers. For most, one source is all that’s needed. Instead of reading about a subject from multiple source (an acquisition, for example), most people link to the same story again and again. This has its advantage (the story shows up at a higher rate in rankings like Daypop or Popdex) and disadvantages (a few voices drown out the rest). I admit to being as guilty as any other blogger but it’s a cause for concern.

The main thing that bothers me about this is that, as a result, few bloggers take the time to take in information from different sources. Reading a single story about a subject is good if you want to get some quick facts but, in order to really act in a journalistic fashion, you need to develop a fuller picture.

For example, if News.com publishes a story about a new technology/company/whatever, then most bloggers will link to that story and add their comment on it. Meanwhile, the San Jose Mercury News could publish a story on the same subject but, having talked to other people, provide tidbits that could be associated to info received from the initial News.com story. In another corner, a blogger who’s involved with the technology/company/etc… could add his/her thoughts on the subject adding more data. A competitor would do the same and so on and so forth. However, in the blog world, the emphasis is on link, add your opinion, move on. Few bloggers seem to be revisiting stories and adding more analysis as the story develops. This is a shame and if it remains as it currently is, weblogging will never replace journalism fully.

Since the 80s, professional journalists have been moving further and further away from analysis, focusing instead on delivering facts quickly. I believe that niche (the investigative journalism one) is the one where blogging could add a lot of value (and if blogging is to displace journalism, it needs to add value). Can we do better, I don’t know the answer to that but I suspect that collectively, the blogging community needs to examine its role and figure out whether it wants to go beyond the opinion page (where it would be sitting right now if it were a newspaper).

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