The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

What is the ultimate role of blogs in news media? I've argued in the past that blogs fall short as true originating news sources, because the majority of bloggers present their information as second-hand sources: That is, from wire and other news sources that on-hand reporters cover. They play more of a punditry role, which can range from strict fact-checking (after the fact) to counter-ranting.

Angelina Sciolla, writing for Media Bistro, takes that a step further, and posits that blogs can play an active role as a power check on the news media--a Fifth Estate, as it were (which, I guess, is less catchy than her "Blog Estate", but makes more sense to me). It's a very good piece, putting the whole blogging movement into context. I like the expansion of the angle that the further consolidation of big media, and the distrust it breeds, leads to the necessity of blogs. She manages to cover a lot of ground in a concise package, including David Winer-Martin Nisenholtz blog bet:

Harvard and Userland's Winer has a longterm bet with Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital, in which he suggests that by 2007, the year's major news events will be more covered by blogs than by the Times.

But Nisenholtz isn't buying. Does he think blogs will take over? "The question is a red herring," he says. "I don't view blogs as competition for journalistic organizations such as the Times. I see them as fundamentally different. Blogs allow people to publish their views on the Internet. This is highly useful, but it in no way precludes the use of a professionally edited form of journalism."

I'm inclined to side with Nisenholtz. And there are plenty of folks who, noting how much the blogging community has slowed down with the onset of summer, wonder whether or not blogging is a novelty that's come and starting to go. I don't know about that. I do know that anything as self-motivational as a blog depends on ongoing interest by both the author and the audience; and it's more a challenge for the author to maintain momentum. Perhaps acceptance into mainstream (read: paycheck) media, like Salam Pax with The Guardian, is one way to achieve that.