Jay Rosen: Blogs Do Quality Reporting Too

In response to Michael Skube's freewheelingly critical opinion piece about the blogosphere in Sunday's LA Times, the paper has published a response entitled "The journalism that bloggers actually do" by Jay Rosen, NYU journalism professor and PressThink blogger, via its online Blowback feature. For more information on the Skube affair, check out A Blog Around the Clock. I don't have a problem with Skube's assertion that blogs are no substitute for the mainstream media--I agree--but Skube is just so contemptuous and dismissive toward the blogosphere (a phenomenon he doesn't seem particularly familiar with to begin with) that his assertions warranted a response.

The real value of Rosen's response, though, is that it contains an informative list--compiled from suggestions on his blog and with links included--of high-impact reporting done by blogs. Check it out. He included my role in the resignation of George Deutsch on the list, for which I'm honored, but I mention this primarily because I thought that this was a great example of how the old and new media should interact. I broke the original story, but Andrew Revkin of the The New York Times verified the story and put it out in the "official" print record for a wider audience (and the story I broke was a follow up to a story that Revkin had reported a week earlier). We communicated openly throughout all of this.

Although efforts such as Skube's don't help the cause, blogs and the traditional media should be complementary aspects of the same phenomenon: the dissemination of information to the public. And, after demonstrating that yes, in fact, blogs do "real reporting" as well, Rosen says it best:

No one owns the practice of reporting or assigns the right to do it. It's a democratic thing to tell others what's going on and "show your work." Some people will not be deterred from doing that. Most of them don't care what you call them. They do care if their story stands up.

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Those who care about quality reporting area tiny minority of reporters and journalism managers who mostly work for niche publications like Seed. The rest of America's corporate 'news' industry cares only about providing eyes to advertisers. For them, this argument about whether bloggers are good reporters is a red herring. What they fear is that bloggers are capturing some of those eyes which they wanted to sell to advertisers.

Skube also forgets that a blog is simply one kind of online content management system. The entirety of the New York Times could be written in one (albeit enormous) blog and it wouldn't make a lick of difference to the quality of the reporting.

I might get accused of "craft-dread" here, but no, the "online content managers" who produce blogs are different from the journalists who went to school and trained in their field. Bloggers are amateur journalists, god love 'em, but frequently they operate according to quite different rules of reporting. Matt Drudge, anyone?

Skube is certainly right about one thing: "The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined." It seems to be where the real troublemakers on the old ListServs and alt.whatevers went to ground.

It takes a seasoned eye and a good deal of digging through blogs to pluck actual journalism out of all that shouting and one-upmanship. And I'm a blog FAN and a blog JOURNALIST (actually, one with extensive experience in the dreaded MSM, which, as I'm coming to understand, disqualifies me from holding valid opinions about the blogosphere.)

I have a bit of experience in the mainstream media as well, and I think that the journalistic principles stressed there (particularly in America) are great. I have a lot of respect for the mainstream media, and I feel that the blogosphere and the mainstream media should be--and generally are--complementary. That's why it's so upsetting to see someone like Skube launch such a dismissive and uninformed attack.

"I feel that the blogosphere and the mainstream media should be--and generally are--complementary. That's why it's so upsetting to see someone like Skube launch such a dismissive and uninformed attack."

Very well said.