Amanpour on Blogging

CNN foreign affairs correspondent Christiane Amanpour offers a few thoughts on the merits, or lack thereof, of blogging:

Sometimes it is incredibly useful, for instance, in closed societies such as Burma. Some of the images, some of the stories that have come out have been by the Internet and by citizen journalists. And that has been indispensable in terms of knowing what is going on when journalists like myself and others cannot get visas to get in there and cannot operate. … In that regard I think the bloggers or the citizen journalists are very brave and very useful.

I think that in the West sometimes blogging is an excuse for sitting back and just commenting on life as it passes by and putting out your opinions on what is happening. Sometimes those are interesting, but not always. And the truth of the matter is I do not believe, no matter how sophisticated the delivery platform, I don’t think there is a substitute or should there be a substitute for professional journalism, which comes with training, with experience, with credibility, with developing trust based on the accuracy of your record in the field. I think that is an absolute must. That must stay with us so that people have an accurate and objective reference point for their information.

Sounds about right to me. I would add, though, that while blogging is not a substitute for conventional journalism, it does provide a useful check on more traditional media. What do you think?

Comments

  1. #1 RBH
    December 5, 2008

    She wrote

    And the truth of the matter is I do not believe, no matter how sophisticated the delivery platform, I don’t think there is a substitute or should there be a substitute for professional journalism, which comes with training, with experience, with credibility, with developing trust based on the accuracy of your record in the field. I think that is an absolute must. That must stay with us so that people have an accurate and objective reference point for their information.

    I actually think that’s self-serving on her part, or perhaps just ignorance. Aside from the “training” bit, all the rest of her concerns can be met by bloggers. Blogging is not merely a delivery platform.

  2. #2 Captain Obvious
    December 5, 2008

    I think “amateur blogging” is no substitute for “professional journalism” so in that she’s right.

    I’d follow that up however with the point that just because you are paid and are on TV or printed in a newspaper it doesn’t mean your work is worthy of the label professional journalism or indeed is as valuable as amateur blogging. If you are dribbling inane bullshit it doesn’t matter if you are on an obscure blog with 2 readers or primetime news, you’re still dribbling bullshit.

    It’s not the medium that matters, it’s the content and style.

  3. #3 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    December 5, 2008

    I don’t think that I ever pretended to be a credible substitute for a professional journalist. I see blogging as a way to lead people to what I think is interesting, not to actually break news. If my readers don’t think it’s interesting, then it is no problem, is it?

    Is she saying that some bloggers take themselves too seriously?

    Imagine.

  4. #4 BaldApe
    December 5, 2008

    I see blogging as a way to lead people to what I think is interesting, not to actually break news.

    That’s how I use blogs for the most part. I read blogs, and sometimes comment, but I don’t usually look at them as primary sources.

    The blogs I read are either written by journalists, scientists, economists, or other professionals, or are like my brother’s blog, where he just posts an opinion from time to time.

    And I think most of us are clever enough to tell the difference.

  5. #5 george.wiman
    December 5, 2008

    Let’s see, I enjoy reading a blog about power written by an electrical engineer, numerous blogs on scientific topics written by scientists in the relevant fields, a community blog about gay issues written by a bunch of gays, and a legal blog written by a lawyer. These are people who might be interviewed by the MSM, their comments misquoted and filtered and mixed in with pure fluff before being broadcast or printed on dead trees. I can see the MSM’s problem.

    The fact that there are also bloggers who go on at length about stuff outside their field about matters… why? Because they’re too much like ‘journalists’?

  6. #6 Peter
    December 5, 2008

    Pedantically, blogging is journalism… It is keeping a journal. I would really like it if more people in the “traditional media” would be reporters rather than journalists. As it is there is too much opinion media without enough objective reporting. For that reason, I miss Dan Rather.

  7. #7 Strider
    December 5, 2008

    If every “journalist” were of Amanpour’s caliber then I’d agree with her. Unfortunately, however, for every Amanpour we’ve got, what, ten Hannitys? So I’ll watch Amanpour but I’ll also keep reading Josh Marshall, Kos, etc.

  8. #8 JimCH
    December 5, 2008

    What Strider said!
    Perhaps news blogging would have begun anyway with the advent of the internet but if the citizenry weren’t so put off & disgusted by what the fourth estate passes off as fulfillment of their societal function then blogging of this sort would, at best, be viewed as a mere appendium — & probably negatively only when the particular blogger proved to be a crank.

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    December 5, 2008

    News organizations have resources and access. They can pay people to trot around the globe, poke around corners and overturn stones. Investigative journalism is not so easily handled by blogs (exceptions, of course, exist). The problem is getting the news media to focus their energies on what they can do better than most blogs, rather than wasting those energies doing what the average blogger can do.

  10. #10 SiMPel MYnd
    December 5, 2008

    I see two problems with her assertions.

    First, the MSM just doesn’t do “news” that well anymore. Sure, there are particular journalists out there who do good work, and niches within the MSM that uphold the public trust and provide good, useful information and community service. But, the MSM has to fit into a business model where “news” is profitable. And, unfortunately, most of the time profit wins over doing good journalism and providing real news. Instead, the MSM now parrots talking points from whatever source they can get them quickly & cheaply without vetting them properly. So, my comment to her point that there is no substitute for professional journalism is, “There had better be a substitute, because professional journalism is becoming a lost art.”

    My second criticism is that blogging provides direct access to subject matter experts that journalists can’t or won’t give us. The recent news of CNN closing down their science branch highlights this problem. If your run-of-the-mill journalist doesn’t have the science background to understand what’s bullshit and what’s truth, then what are they going to report? Again, they will provide what is easy and cheap for them to provide–usually not the best source. Certainly Scienceblogs is a good place to start for information on science that I would NEVER trust the MSM to provide.

    Finally, blogging provides a great diversity of opinion that the MSM lacks. That’s a double-edged sword. It means that, if you have a narrow view of the way the world and the people in it should behave, you can generally find a blog that supports your opinion and you won’t have learned anything. But, if you use that diversity wisely, you can learn more about other viewpoints, grow your knowledge and perspective, and be the better for it.

  11. #11 notedscholar
    December 5, 2008

    Amanpore says: I don’t think there is any substitute for the field of journalism, or ever will be.

    Can no one see the Owellian doublespeak here? It’s obvious that she has a vested interest in this idea, the truth of this idea. Just read Beard’s tome “An Economic Interpretation” to get the principle here. My goodness. And I’d expect more from such an attractive journalist.

    NS

  12. #12 Curt Sampson
    December 6, 2008

    A dedicated amateur can, and frequently does, do better than a professional at many things. I’m rather surprised that she leaves out the one thing that really makes professional reporting worthwhile: the support structure. How about giving a hand to all those editors and fact-checkers out there?

  13. #13 cl
    December 7, 2008

    You said,

    Sounds about right to me. I would add, though, that while blogging is not a substitute for conventional journalism, it does provide a useful check on more traditional media. What do you think?

    You echoed my concerns to the tee.

  14. #14 Strider
    December 7, 2008

    Of course what Blake Stacey said is true. BUT. How many of them are engaging in true, worthwhile investigative journalism? Precious few. 60 minutes, Now, Bill Moyer’s Journal… Also, some of the bigger blogs do a pretty good job thank you very much.

  15. #15 k?zl?k zar?
    December 14, 2008

    If every “journalist” were of Amanpour’s caliber then I’d agree with her.

    k?zl?k zar?