Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Media, Old and New

Last week, bloggers and journalists in Nashville engaged in an extended dispute over the value -- or lack thereof -- of their respective contributions to the world at large. Because blogging is destined to augment, not replace, professional journalism, one senses that the journalists do protest too much. Nonetheless, journalists correctly sense that their turf is being invaded, and that disconcerts many of them.

Because most people who maintain blogs, including your humble correspondent, do so merely as a hobby or on a part time basis, they will for the most part not be able to perform the kind of news gathering that constitutes original reporting. To use myself as an example, I did a bit of original work a year ago this month in posts concerning a judge's record in Wilson County (that continues to get a fair number of hits) and also did some reporting on events that same month at the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting in Nashville that the local newspaper did not choose to cover. However, most of what I do is simply opinion writing or media criticism, and as the journalists in this dispute quickly point out, I, like other bloggers, depend a great deal on their work.

That being said, journalists arguing their indispensability should remember that Americans characteristically are temperamentally anti-elitist, and, as such, they do not respond well to arguments based on credentials or professional standing. They want to know about what you have done. From that standpoint, there are too many examples of journalism done badly in recent years for arguments from general professional standing to carry much weight.

There will be a lot of jockeying for position in the coming years as journalists and bloggers figure out their respective ways of contributing to the quest for truth. Those in both camps will have a valuable role if they pursue their craft well.

Hat Tip: Bob Krumm

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