A Media & Communications student emailed asking for answers to questions she posed as part of a research project on the relationship between journalism and blogging.
What motivated you to begin your blog? What role do you intend for it to play in society?
I’d been reading and commenting on other people’s blogs, noticed there wasn’t much from a rural perspective and decided I had enough to say on my own.
I’ve never considered what role my blog plays in society. I hoped it would be read, enjoyed and engender debate.
Do you think traditional (print and broadcast) journalism is fulfilling its societal role of providing neutral, reliable, accurate and democratic information to citizens? Do you think bloggers fulfil these values better?
The best journalism is still unbiased (though not necessarily neutral), reliable and accurate (not sure what democratic information is).
The loss of institutional knowledge in news rooms means that a lot of less than the best ends up printed and broadcast. The move to infotainment and comment in news items, on TV in particular, means a lot isn’t neutral, reliable or accurate.
Most blogs are commentary not journalism, similar to letters to the editor without the intervention of an editor. Many are churnalism.
Few if any, try to be neutral or unbiased but the good ones are up front about their bias and are reliable and accurate. The worst pretend their not biased and just rant. The best of those which do break news are as good as, sometimes better than, traditional media. But most bloggers blog part time and unpaid without the resources available to newsrooms.
Is it your intent to cause a change to journalism? Do you think blogging is changing traditional journalism? If so, do you think this is positive or negative for journalism as a whole?
No, I don’t intend to change traditional journalism (and I wouldn’t have the power to do so even if I did). However, I think blogging is changing influencing journalism – some blogs have become another source of news. Many blogs react to what’s in the traditional media and the traditional media sometimes reacts to, comments on and quotes from blog posts.
Interest.co.nz’s post on Crafar Farms was very quickly followed up by other media, on and off line.
Blogs sometimes hold traditional media to account and providing they do it fairly, that’s good.
What do you think are the negative points/things which should be changed about blogging as journalism? What is your reaction to claims that blogging is negative for journalism because it is partisan, only provides links to ‘real’ journalism, and has too little access and influence?
Rants and personal invective are negative but that isn’t journalism and, as with any other media, if you don’t like it you don’t have to read it.
The lack of editorial control is liberating but it can also be dangerous, especially with court cases where blogs have broken suppression orders or been in contempt of court.
Not all blogging is partisan and some of the partisan ones are very good. They break stories, use original sources and facts as any journalist in traditional media ought to. Kiwiblog, Whale Oil and Cactus Kate are upfront about their bias but break stories which are followed by other media.
Some traditional media and/or journalists are partisan too, although they are less likely to admit to it.
Partisan isn’t bad by itself, it’s any media which pretends to be unbiased when it’s not, that is the problem.
How would you describe the interaction between blogging and traditional journalism?
Blogs and traditional journalism compliment, sometimes compete, sometimes feed off each other. Most blogs would have a lot less to say if it wasn’t for traditional media. But some blogs use original material and the traffic isn’t all one way. As individual blogs enhance their reputations by breaking stories the media will refer to them more.