A Blog Around The Clock

Introducing: The Replacements!

Jay Rosen, on Twitter:

“Hey @Boraz: Scientists (mainly, me) are close to announcing a branching off from the curmudgeons, a new species, almost. The Replacements.”

My response on Twitter:

@jayrosen_nyu I am all ears! The Replacements! Sounds like a superhero comic strip, a movie one day!

Jay, on FriendFeed:

The Replacements are those who mistakenly believe that crowing for the 1,000 time that bloggers cannot replace journalists is an important and insightful act. Identifying feature: they make a show of disagreeing with the hordes of writers who think bloggers CAN replace (newspaper) journalists but fail to quote or link to any. Recent case: http://is.gd/llQa

Another example: http://is.gd/ls5v

My response on FriendFeed:

An important part of their argument, which usually comes out clearly if they engage in the discussion with the commenters, is the sudden switch in the meaning of the word “blog”. As we know, blog is software. What one uses it for is a different story. But….

…invariably some commenter mentions HuffPo, TPM, Firedoglake or a good local blog that does investigative reporting. Those sites originated as blogs, and have a bloggy look and feel (and use blogging software), but they have grown into New Media organizations, with paid reporters and interns and editors, etc.

As soon as that happens, they jump on it and switch to their preferred meaning of ‘blog’ – the small individual site full of LOLCats and adolescent angst. No, nobody suggested those kids will do investigative journalism, so this is a hijack of the meaning. Josh Marshal does not have adolescent angst, as far as I can tell.

What most bloggers say in these discussions is that they don’t want to become journalists, that a small number of really good bloggers may want to become professional journalists, and that many laid-off journalists will become bloggers but only in the sense of “doing their stuff online instead of in print”.

There is also the sense that a lot of journalism is (usually botched) transcription of what the sources or experts say, while today sources and experts can talk directly to the public.

Finally, there are accidental journalists – people who happen to be at the right place at the right time and report the news (e.g., the guy who lives next to the Minnesota bridge that fell) for a few days, then go back to their normal lives.

Nobody ever said that little bloggers with LOLcats and adolescent angst are going to replace journalists. But the method and style of journalism, as it abandons the expensive paper and moves to the Web, will have to change. Also, both the hyperlocal and the huge global papers will survive with some good paper/Web combo. The medium-sized city/state papers owned by chains are those that will die.

And many bloggers are worried that there will be a period of vacuum after the papers die and before New Media manages to take over with a new model and be able to cover everything the papers covered till now.