We’re off and blogging!

Now that we’ve divided the class into group blog teams, to cover various aspects of Austin life for the next 8 weeks, here are a few things to keep in mind:

• Make sure that you’re familiar with WordPress and its functions.

• Keep in mind the requirements of this blog project.

• If you’re struggling for posting ideas, try here.

• If you’re interested, you can find some good tips such as these. I especially like this quote from Mindy McAdams’ post:

Writing a blog will make you better at everything related to being a good journalist. Word. You will become a better writer, researcher, investigator, skeptic, listener, communicator — and editor. You will also become better at everything concerning the Web, if you really apply yourself to blogging. I speak from personal experience on this.

• Finally, for Tuesday I’d like you to read the following articles (see the syllabus for more details):

  • “Say Everything,” by Scott Rosenberg (introduction and chapter 9 on journalists vs. bloggers)
  • Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over,” by Jay Rosen
  • If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn’t. So Let’s Get a Clue,” by Jay Rosen
  • As you read, think about these questions: What is the relationship between blogging and journalism? What are the ethics of blogging, and how do they relate to the traditional ethics of journalism? In short: what does the blog form and the blog culture mean for how we think about journalism?
  • Leave your response in the comments section for Tuesday morning. Thanks!
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    13 Responses to “We’re off and blogging!”


    1. 1 SillyJillybug ツ February 18, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      I need to follow this so I can become familiar with WordPress! =)

    2. 2 Holly MacRossin February 21, 2010 at 7:52 pm

      When evaluating the relationship between blogging and journalism, this quote from the last Rosen reading stuck out to me.

      “They don’t work the same way, or produce the same goods. One does not replace the other. They are not enemies, either.”

      I think their relationship is confusing at best and definitely heated in regards to certain aspects. Journalists don’t think bloggers are credible, and perhaps bloggers think journalists are so far disconnected from their audience. Who is to say which form of “news” is better?

      Bloggers obviously do not always use AP style, for example, and this may frustrate people. They may not capitalize, punctuate or list sources when needed. Blogging is more open and free in a sense. Journalism, aka official news (whether it be in the newspaper or on the web) is very organized. The people writing for these type of publications are trained professionals.

      I think these two are very different, but both offer something that the other cannot. I don’t think they should necessarily be in competition with one another, but then again they don’t have to be partners either. All I know is blogging is a definite implication of the future of journalism, so professionals should see what they are doing right.

    3. 3 Amber Genuske February 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      In “Say Everything” Scott Rosenberg asks is blogging journalism? I think this answer is vague because it depends on what kind of blogging. There are blogs that follow someone’s hourly status that are definitely not journalism; there are blogs that by accident become journalism like James Marino’s updates on the 9/11 attacks on his Website Broadwaystars.com; there are citizens that test the waters of journalism; then there are blogs hosted by publications and written by professional journalists that are no doubt journalism.

      I definitely understand common frustrations with the citizen journalist, though, like lack of AP style, lack of expert sources and editorializing. Though, there are many ways that publications can use them to their advantage, like user-generated content (what you guys get to learn all about in my “teaching moments” presentation tomorrow, get ready).

      In Rosen’s article “If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But it Didn’t. So Let’s Get a Clue,” he explores these frustrations using the example of the “good blogger.” If every blogger was a good blogger, then the past arguments blogging vs. journalism wouldn’t exist. Duh.

      In his second article “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over,” Rosen redeems himself, though. Rosen sums up the direction that blogging and journalism will take when he quotes Scott Rosenberg, managing editor of Salon and a technology-aware writer in his article, “The rise of blogs does not equal the death of professional journalism. The media world is not a zero-sum game. Increasingly, in fact, the Internet is turning it into a symbiotic ecosystem — in which the different parts feed off one another and the whole thing grows.”

    4. 4 dluippold February 22, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      Because most journalists are trained on the job and not the classroom, I sort of look at blogs as “practice” journalism, or journalism with training wheels, because people do not hold you to the same standard as professional journalists. That said, I would argue that blogs are essentially judged by the same standards as professional journalists. If a blogger’s posts are poorly written or report the wrong information, nobody will give it any credence.

      I don’t know very much about the legal difference in journalists and blogs. I have not taken any media law classes yet, but my vague understanding of the subject makes me think that all media law is on shaky ground and not firmly established. The Rosenberg chapter references Justin Wolf, who was arrested and not given the same legal rights as a journalist. However, professional journalists with the New York Times and Washington Post also have been thrown in jail for similar infractions.

      Both of those things said, I am skeptical about framing the issue as a comparison between bloggers and journalists. Professional journalism is a relatively small and exclusive community, especially when it comes to reporters for national newspapers. Because of this it is easy to observe and speak about their trends, qualities and shortcomings as a whole.

      Bloggers, by their very nature, are a decentralized, completely subjective and inclusive group that ranges from my group blog for this class, to the Neiman Lab or the Huffington Post. Because it is such a general group, it is impossible to compare them to a entity as specific as professional journalists. Take media coverage leading up to the Iraq War, for example. After the fact, it is easy to point to blogs that were skeptical and turned out to be right, and it is just as easy to reference the shortcomings of major newspapers. But there were probably also hundreds of blogs that were just as wrong as major media. This creates a sort of circular logic because it allows Bloggers to define for themselves who constitutes a Blogger that should be compared to professional journalists.

    5. 5 Donnie Hogan February 22, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      Where would blogging be without journalism? Think about it, seriously.

      You all know I’m always one of the first ones to knock a “professional” journalist of his/her high-horse and tell them to quit bitching and get with the times. I’m not completely backing them up, but rather making a statement from their point of view.

      If you take away professional journalists (i.e. reporting and investigative journalism) what would bloggers blog about. If you take away reporters’ stories and interviews, bloggers have nothing but access to public events and the same PR flak as any common person for blog post content. I feel a lot of bloggers comment freely and build communities AFTER reporters have done all the dirty work.

      For example, (without journalists) if an elected official cleans up the streets, lowers unemployment and creates jobs all while embezzling city funds, most everyone in the community would love the official. The reason is because an unpaid blogger wouldn’t have the access or resources to blow the lid off the story and make it public, given he/she even got the tip in the first place. Bloggers CAN break news, much like the 9/11 reference in the first reading, but how much investigative/reporting news do bloggers really break without freeloading the work of actual journalists?

      My point is an inspired blogger can be more powerful and persuasive than an overworked reporter. However, I feel if you take the meat (actual journalistic reporting) away, blogging really would just be a bunch of opinions from people who are either uninformed, or have been drinking way too much of the gov’t/big business PR kool-aid.

    6. 6 katiemyung February 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      In “say everything,” Scott Rosenberg says “Blogging could be journalism anytime the person writing a blog chose to act like a journalist… Similarly, journalists could become bloggers anytime they adopted the format of a blog as a vessel for their work.”

      I think it is true that blogs change the power structures in journalism, and many professional journalists now do blogs. Blogs have a potential for journalists doing professional and crafted work. Blogging is also particularly suited to journalism because it can help journalists connect and understand their readers better.

      However, it has been a controversial issue whether blogging is journalism. If blogging became a journalism it needs to some criteria. Jay Rosen says, “Those in journalism who want to bring ethics to blogging ought to start with why people trust (some) bloggers, not with an ethics template made for a prior platform operating as a closed system in a one-to-many world.” Rosen thinks that if bloggers had ethics then blogging would be called journalism.

      In addition Rosen mentions blogs is an open system and its production is cheap and new material abundant. So, we can solve the problem by having bloggers. Of course, bloggers can be gatekeepers for society, but it can not be guaranteed all bloggers do a true reporting.

      Even though there are many controversial issues with blogging, I think journalists might need blogs because it can build communities and provides relevant and reliable information to targeted communities.

    7. 7 Emily February 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm

      In a general sense, I’ve always considered bloggers to be less trustworthy and less ethical than journalists. I really like Jay Rosen’s article, “If Bloggers Had No Ethics Blogging Would Have Failed, But It Didn’t. So Let’s Get a Clue,” because it brings up a lot of good points that many journalists might overlook.

      Although journalists and bloggers might not have the same ethics, bloggers have ethics that are much more relevant to the current state of journalism. As Rosen points out, bloggers correct themselves early, easily and often; they aren’t remote, they habitually converse. Most importantly, I forget that while journalists might have to answer to editors, bloggers “write without a safety net” and take personal responsibility for their words. They don’t have anyone to protect their work, making them more transparent and more trustworthy than journalists in that sense.

    8. 8 Jordyn Davenport February 23, 2010 at 12:23 am

      My favorite line from the Rosen reading was, “Arguing about whether blogs would replace major news media is like asking ‘will farmers’ markets replace restaurants?'” Although things didn’t start out this way, blogging and traditional journalism have a symbiotic relationship now. Sometimes the journalists need the bloggers to know what the public actually cares about and what exactly they think about those things and the bloggers need the journalists to have stories to link to. Very few bloggers have the time and/or resources to do all of the reporting needed to write in depth investigative pieces, but that isn’t generally the goal. Blogs and newspapers/magazines/etc are linked but they are not just different forms of the same thing.
      People want something different out of a blog so they look for the information to be formatted and presented in a different way. Opinionated sentences are acceptable in blogs, provided there is actually some sort of analysis. Creative and entertaining sentence structures and maybe some adverbs are even allowed! No one goes to read a blog post thinking they’re going to read a painfully “fair and balanced” news story written in flawless AP style. If that’s what people read on blogs they would’ve died out. A lot of blogs don’t make any qualms about which side they lean toward, they give you the news AND the analysis through a certain frame. Newspaper stories can be somewhat lacking in analysis due to a paranoia of bias but they are good at getting the facts out. And without those facts and those stores to link to where would the bloggers be?

    9. 9 Sean Beherec February 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

      I think BoingBoing co-editor Xeni Jardin best answers the question about what blogs mean about how we think about journalism when she says, “One will not replace the other, but I think the two together are good for each other.”

      For all the griping back and forth about blogs vs. traditional news outlets that Rosenberg talks about, I think they’ve both helped each other quite a bit. Traditional news outlets have provided a jumping off point for blogs and blogs in return have shown traditional news outlets a better way to connect with readers.

      I’m not a fan of the idea of the burnt-out journalist also being told to crank out a blog post every day in addition to everything else they’re working on, but I do think traditional news outlets are benefitting from the opportunities blogs offer.

      I also think traditional journalists can benefit from the new ethics that blogging has established and which Rosen talks about. I don’t really see it as traditional news outlets losing any ethics, so much as changing and gaining a few.

      It might be time that journalists welcome back a voice to their writing and start having an opinion. After all, if they’ve been reporting on a topic for some time, there’s a good chance they’re an authoritative voice and know what they’re talking about. And if nothing else, everyone can benefit with more conversations between journalists and their readers.

    10. 10 Ryan Murphy February 23, 2010 at 1:44 am

      All right. My opinion (and viewpoint) on this might come from a different angle than most. You see, I am from what I would call the “blogging” camp. That’s where my interest in journalism as a whole first began. Honestly, before journalism courses started forcing me to keep up with major news outlets, it was very rare for me to ever care about much of what the New York Times or the Austin American Statesman had to say, although I will say I have overcame those issues and now have no problem appreciating the work they do.

      Particularly in “Say Everything,” I found the whole discussion of Bloggers vs. Journalists almost comical. Of course journalists were not happy about bloggers coming in and ignoring all the rules they were following, they had only had those rules rammed into their skulls for multiple years on what was proper and necessary, just to have these “no ones” come in and turn it all on its head. AP Style is beneficial in some ways, such as providing a standard for certain methods of information delivery. But what I have to thank the blog movement for is the sometimes total disregard for proper writing styles. To me, there is no “right” way to write. It’s why I hated elementary school English, when they tried to force me to hold a pencil correctly and learn cursive. It’s why I loathed middle school English, because if I broke template I -lost- points for being stylistically inappropriate. It’s why I rallied against high school English literature and its unnecessary demands that I submit one brainstorming sheet, two feedback cards from fellow students, two rough drafts, and -then- the final just to do a three page paper on Animal Farm “properly.” The concept of disseminating information needed the writing/journalism world turned on its head, and we are all better for it. I’d rather have to peak around the trash in order to find the pearls than have little gold specks of news delivered to my door. But that’s just me.

      I think questions of ethics with bloggers are natural, particularly because the field is so new and unbalanced with the flood of participants. Like most new things we take to, it takes some time for the dirt to be purged as people jump in, it’s just natural. As others have mentioned, I think Jay Rosen says it as eloquently as you can at the end of the second article. If blogs had not developed a code of ethics all their own they would have failed long ago.

      More people being involved is a GOOD thing!

    11. 11 Kurt Mitschke February 23, 2010 at 1:58 am

      Jay Rosen’s article “Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over” couldn’t be more correct. It is not argument of either one or the other, rather blogging and journalism work together and both have advantages to offer. Clearly this is the case, as many professional journalists now have their own blogs, and may even utilize it in a different way than they do their traditional platform.

      Rosen also makes a good point that bloggers are journalists “sometimes.” Often, with a nice looking page and well-written piece, bloggers can pass off their work as real journalism, while it may actually be laced with tons of false information (whether intentional or not), PR promotions or completely biased opinion. Other times, it is indeed “real” journalism. This is what makes it difficult sometimes, but over time and with more exposure, people will be able to recognize what to believe.

      Regarding the ethics of blogging, I feel that if a blogger does a bad job at reporting and writing, that those reading it will know and not give it credibility. Many of those in the audience and reading the blogs may in fact be experts on the topic of the blog post, and therefore, through real-time comments and discussion, can in a way edit the post by pointing out the inaccuracies of the blogger. That is a major benefit of this open system.

      I completely agree with everything Rosen had to say in his articles. The blog form is very beneficial, and is helping to enhance journalism.

    12. 12 victorialeece February 23, 2010 at 2:00 am

      I do not believe that journalism and blogging are mutually exclusive. The two benefit from one another in many ways and can only continue to do so in the future.

      I prefer reading my news in a blog format as opposed to a paper or nightly newscast. I, along with many others, want to know everything as soon as I think up a question. Blogs are the way to get that. Professional journalists are needed though to compile and synthesize in depth information not accessible by the ordinary citizen blogger, and that’s where the two become symbiotic.

      Berners-Lee had the original idea of the web as a method to cultivate intellectual collaboration. Now it is a collaboration of all sorts, not just intellectual material. This is seen most clearly in the form of a blog, the doors are open for sharing between all people, not just media outlets.

      My favorite line from all of the readings comes from Chapter 9 of Scott Rosenberg’s “Say Everything.” It sums up the way the web and blogging almost seemed to explode all of a sudden–

      “It was as though the pent-up pressure of a century’s worth of unpublished letters to the editor had suddenly exploded online in a fury of indignation and complaint.”

      I think that this quote captures why so many people love blogging and sharing on the web–they love sharing about what they love, whether it be a pet or a national disaster.

    13. 13 Yolande Yip February 23, 2010 at 3:55 am

      For the record, I hate school board meetings. Now, relevant comment:

      In “If Blogging had no Ethics…,” Jay Rosen writes, “They don’t work the same way, or produce the same goods. One does not replace the other. They are not enemies, either. Ideas that work perfectly well in one—and describe the world in that setting—may not work in understanding the other: they misdescribe the world in a shifted setting.”

      He is actually referring to closed and open editorial systems, but I think (and Rosen probably meant it in this way) the quote is also applicable to journalists and bloggers.

      This brings us back to the Journalist vs. Blogger (non)debate and to what many others have already expressed here. We already have discussed the fading of the line between bloggers and journalists.

      As Rosen quoted Rebecca Blood, “When a blogger searches the existing record of fact and discovers that a public figure’s claim is untrue, that is journalism. When a reporter repeats a politician’s assertions without verifying whether they are true, that is not.” Whether or not a blogger is a journalist depends on the circumstance, and obviously since anyone can be a blogger, a journalist can as well.

      Like Jordyn said, people read blogs because they are different from straight, professional news. The two are different, and they are both necessary. We just need to figure out how to sustain this “symbiotic” relationship.


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