Friday, April 6, 2007

Do newspaper blogs hurt newspapers?

Wall Street Journal columnist and blogger Jeremy Wagstaff poses an interesting question: Is old media killing itself by blogging?

A growing number of traditional news outlets are adding blogs to their websites. But does that blur the distinction between blogs and old media like newspapers? Don't people turn to blogs for quick, often opinionated analysis, while looking to sites like the New York Times website for well-researched articles by reporters with years of experience and a commitment to journalistic values?

As a journalist who also blogs, I have mixed feelings about this trend. When you go out to report a story, be it an investigation of government corruption or a soft feature on the local high school team that built an electric car, you always wind up with far more material than you'll ever put in the story.

A blog gives you a chance to talk about what it was like to report the story, what interesting things you learned that didn't fit in the piece, and possibly even your thoughts and opinions about the material. But does this erode the "objectivity" standard that most newspapers hold? Perhaps.

While it's true that no journalist is completely unbiased, I'm not sure it's always a good idea to wear biases on our sleeves. If there's an obvious slant in your story that's tied to a personal belief, you should probably admit it within the body of the story itself. But you should also probably have thought twice about reporting the story at all.

People do expect opinions from the op-ed page, and they do expect opinions from blogs. They expect in-depth reporting that examines multiple sides of an issue in newspapers and on (most) mainstream media websites. But I'm not sure that means there's no place for blogs on a newspaper website. Maybe it just means it's important to decide what the blog is for. Is it for journalists to write about the story behind the story? Is it a chance to involve citizen journalists and other reporters that aren't on the payroll in the news process? Or is it just a cheap ploy to be trendy?

1 comment:

New York Dude said...

You ask Don't people turn to blogs for quick, often opinionated analysis, while looking to sites like the New York Times website for well-researched articles by reporters with years of experience and a commitment to journalistic values?"


The obvious answer is NO. People have learned that writers who call themselves journalists, especially New York Times journalists, are as capable of distorting their reporting to meet their ideological prejudices as bloggers, except journalists deny the influence of their prejudices on their writing even when the prejudices are obvious to their readers.

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