Panel session at UC Berekely School of Journalism

Tuesday evening I ambled down the hill to the Berkeley campus to attend Weblogs: Challenging Mass Media and Society, a discussion among a veritable who's who of blogdom -- Rebecca Blood, Meg Hourihan, Scott Rosenberg, Dan Gilmour, and J D Lasica.

As you'd figure, this event has been blogged by JD and Radio Free Blogostan, and undoubtedly elsewhere.

Altamont? That’s what the GSJ was compared to when it announced a blog course. The rebels complained about being co-opted by the establishment.

    Rebecca: You should have seen what they said when I said I was doing a book!

    Meg: The same reaction came up when we brought out Blogger. People asked why folks shouldn’t do this themselves.

    J.D.: Fear among bloggers that journalism represents the mass media invading their turf.

How does this impact journalism?

    Dan: Teaches journalism class in Hong Kong annually. Reminds the students that they can be publishers, without asking permission. One of Dan’s purposes was to gain from the feedback of bloggers who knew more about topics than he did.

    J.D.: Readers too often feel out of it; blogs create participatory journalism. * * * Reporters need to do their own weblogs. Increases the reporter’s credibility. * * * Good reporting tool for reporters.

    Scott: Journalists blogging? Well, they’re very busy people. (Dan: The beast must be fed.) It’s a format, not a movement. Whither editing? One of the attractions of blogging is the individualistic “nobody tells me what to do.” Journalism holds to standards of fairness and accuracy; more than one person’s eyes see the copy.

    Rebecca: What standards apply to a journal’s blog? Personal blogs are lax on standards.

    Dan posts directly but if he has the slightest doubt, he runs it by his editor first. “I don’t lose standards just because it’s going online.” His blog is less formal. Instead of three columns, Dan now does two – plus a column of blog entries. The normal publication dumps printed info on the web; the Merc is doing it the other way.

Are readers your editors?

    Meg: yes. Rebecca: more often they send in links. Dan: Readers are sources.

    Meg: A weblog is almost never done. A newspaper story is more a complete package.

    Rebecca: You don’t have to do something as a performance piece to express your personality.

Is this just a fad?

    Scott: In the 90s, the web diary movement has run its course.” The tech press runs through 18 to 24 month cycles. People will still be doing blogs.

    Rebecca: Part of the reason people have weblogs now is because they can. If Pyra had brought out e-zine software, there would be lots of zines now. Journalism requires standards and primary sources, and 99.9% of the blogs don’t fit my definition of journalism.

    Dan: I’m not so sure. Blogs are part of the process that adds up to journalism. We think of the model of mass-media, 20th century journalism, but something’s going on. Dave Farber’s interesting people mail list is journalism. Matt Drudge is not my kind of journalist but he is a journalist nonetheless. “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” says the old editor. Journalism is changes from the top down and the bottom up.

    J.D.: There’s now room for amateur journalists.

Notable quotes:

    Blog = one neuron in the global brain

    Journalism = verification of what I read in the blogs

    Blogdex…the pointers are very interesting. The storytellers may have the most interest. The reporters want to know what the people are thinking.

    Echo chambers. Initially it was for publicity; spreading the meme. Stuff I just happen to like. Are we in danger of group-think?

    Weblogs' goal is to send people away, expecting that they will come back. The Wall St Journal wants you to stay, not clicking anything but the ads. Bloggers don't track readers....

    Rise of the individual expert who does something so well.

    Rusty foster and kuro5hin. In depth essays. Community rallies to fix what’s broken. Like a public writing workshop.

    Dan: The web as a read/write medium is only beginning, unlike what Hollywood would like, a read-only world.

Posted by Jay Cross at September 19, 2002 06:14 PM | TrackBack

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