SPEAKING OF NEWSPAPERS: Blogosphere still uncharted entity for traditional mediaIn the changing world of journalism, today’s keyword is “blog,” which is short for “Web log” (ironically, the longer term is no more explanatory that the shortened one).
In the changing world of journalism, today’s keyword is “blog,” which is short for “Web log” (ironically, the longer term is no more explanatory that the shortened one). No matter the name, they’re Internet-based pages where one or more people share personal or public information. Some feature single-author diary-style writing while others lean toward multiple-author exchanges.
Many in the news business say blogs represent our future, and they may be right. Blogs certainly represent a new opportunity, and not just to newspapers. To the horror of existing media, they allow every Jane Citizen a mechanism to address the masses on a level playing field with multi-billion-dollar news corporations. You no longer need a $25 million printing press or 800-foot tower to broadcast your opinions. So blogs certainly can’t be ignored.
But you can’t help but wonder how readers will differentiate material prepared by traditional media from ramblings posted by every goofball who has an axe to grind. Although journalists aren’t licensed, the physical infrastructure needed by traditional media (expensive presses, transmitters and/or studios) serve to filter out kooks. People who make such large investments typically didn’t want to risk it by hiring unskilled, overly opinionated reporters.
The Internet, however, provides equal space to all. Traditional journalists must fight for readers side-by-side with bloggers who belch absolute nonsense.
Unfortunately for traditionalists, today’s young readers tend to lean toward the bizarre. They’re more likely to surf the blogosphere or YouTube in search of a heated argument or fistfight than news about global warming. So the question becomes this: How bizarre must establishment journalists become to attract attention? And what will that do to their credibility?
Maybe there’s another question. Will blogs go the way of Citizens’ Band radio? Some of you may recall how popular that medium became for a while in the 1970s and 80s. For $100, anyone could buy a transceiver and bark to the world. Eventually, though, people got tired of their repetitive ramblings.
Hopefully, it will be the same with blogs — with readers congregating where they find the best information. Newspapers remain in the best position to supply it. But it all depends on whether future readers will want to be informed or shock-u-tained.