We, the enemy

The unique value of journalism remains today what it has always been: honest, accurate, reliable transmission of information. By imposing tough standards on what and how he reports, by gaining and maintaining the trust of his audience, the journalist stands apart from the mere gossips, the pr shills, and the partisan hacks.

When we talk about blogging though, most of us see the latter three categories. All that we see is the gossip, shilling, hackery, and the occasional bout of amateur brilliance. We don’t see journalism at all.

But, those lesser categories have always stood alongside true journalism in the traditional media (newspapers have their gossip columns, tv morning news is a product placement bonanza, talk radio is a snake pit). So, why do we only think of gossips, shills, hacks and amateurs when we think of bloggers?

Because we are stuck in our historical moment; because those other categories of news purveyors have flooded into this new media, while journalists, for the most part, have stayed away. Indeed, as Joe points out, a real antagonism and mistrust has arisen between journalists and bloggers. Bloggers and journalists each think the other is the enemy. In the coming months and years, that will all change. Journalists will bring their standards and ethics to blogging (and, hopefully, kill that ugly little word).

Will journalism change by moving to this new medium? Will the journalist’s standards and relationships with the audience, sources, and the business end of journalism need to be revised? Yes, undoubtedly. And, why shouldn’t it? Online publishing via blogs, is perhaps the most revolutionary innovation in human communication since the era of Gutenberg and Caxton.

Just as Craigslist broke the newspaper monopoly on the classifieds, the internet and blogs have broken an even more fundamental monopoly held by traditional media: the monopoly on us, the journalists. Journalists should embrace the flexibility offered by these new tools, for they will set us free.

Though it may not look that way now, blogs are part of the solution, not the problem.

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