Delusional Blogging

Some say blogging is journalism by definition, but not everyone agrees. Professional journalists in particular may roll their eyes at the insinuation, often firing off a list of differences between the average blogger and someone schooled and experienced in the business. One recent commentator expressed irritation at "so much passing for 'incisive comment' in the blogosphere," and no doubt many share her view. I know I do. Competence with language is mandatory for effective communication, but it doesn't guarantee thoughtful opinion, or even veracity.

As the title of her article suggests, it's probably delusional to assume that blogging makes someone a journalist; there's a big difference between the communicator, and the communicator's tools. I think the blog is a remarkable communication tool, although it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. Web pages have been used for public communication for many years, but before the Web leaped into popular consciousness, the Internet already allowed public, global discourse in group environments such as Usenet. And before the Internet appeared in popular consciousness, electronic bulletin boards on smaller networks—e.g. Fidonet—and public forums on larger networks such as CompuServe allowed the same one-to-many, and many-to-one communication for which blogs are commonly used today.

I think what makes a blog attractive isn't so much the ability to reach out to the planet—that isn't new—but the ease of doing so. It's the same reason that brought the Web into such widespread use in such a short time: click click, instead of the sweat-and-swear of the text-based computing environment. Since virtually every computer these days has the ability to display Web content and blogs are made of HTML, it's very likely one's blog will be just as easy to read as it was to post.

Of course, there's some irony in a statement about moving away from a text-based environment, considering most blogs hinge on something many people probably thought they'd never see again after the Web took over the Internet. Namely, a whole lot of text. Obviously, it's possible for a blog to contain nothing but photos, or music, or video, or pretty much whatever the proprietor thinks it ought to contain; it doesn't have to be a collection of words. But for all the simplicity and ease of use afforded by the graphical world of the Web, it's back to the keyboard for most bloggers now. Heaven for those who like to mess with words, and somewhere between annoyance and utter torment for those who do not.

Although a blog is frequently equated with at least the most basic premise of journalism—i.e. keeping a journal—it doesn't have to be used that way, and in fact many are not. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the journalist's goals in general; it doesn't hurt to keep a few pointers in mind as we type out our thoughts and opinions. The article I mentioned in the beginning had quite a few links imbedded in it and I didn't follow them all, but there was one in particular I liked. It was to a brief article titled 10 Journalism Tips For Bloggers, Podcasters & Other E-Writers by a guy named Spencer Critchley. I'll just quote one of his tips here; you can click to the whole thing at your leisure if you're interested.

Fact-check. Reputable pro media outlets use professional fact checkers, and they still manage to make mistakes frequently. People may be citing you as a source, so try to get the details right. Related to this: spell-check!

That's a little creepy when you think about it. I doubt anyone is citing me, but I guess anything is possible. It may be a small world, but since the blogosphere gets bigger every second, you never know who might be mentioning what. Food for thought.   


No comments:

Post a Comment