In 1998, blogs were gaining popularity among the tech-savvy and soon after, in 1999, legacy papers began writing about the new form of reporting, dismissing it as amusing. No journalist or news agency predicted the growth experienced by the blogging world in the past 10 years. Now the blogosphere has become competition for the legacy news outlets.
Evidently, blogs did not do too much damage to the traditional news outlet’s ratings as they were quick to jump on the bandwagon and create an abundance of their own blogs with varying subjects. But this was only after legacy news journalists viewed blogs and bloggers through hostile eyes, as Scott Rosenberg puts it, as “kicking hardworking journalists when they were already down.” To them, there was no question, bloggers were not on their level. They were not journalists.
It is because of blogs and the internet that the mainstream media had to adopt a new method of reporting. As opposed to the occasional website updates news organizations were accustomed to, they had to adopt a blog-type reporting method of updating breaking news by the second, and taking advantage of the speed of the internet. This was the first step in our dive into the current social-media breaking news generation.
Moreover, after the creation of their own blogs, mainstream news outlets also began using news found on independent blogs. Considering that it is impossible for news organizations to have enough reporters to cover news as it breaks, civilian reporters can post their account and records of the event on their blogs, through which larger media outlets can diffuse the information to their readers.
According to Felix Salmon, blogging has the upper hand when it comes to publishing a story quickly, even if all the information is not yet known. A brief blog post can inform the readers about what has happened, and as information is released the blogger can simply update the story or create a new post. This is something that is not possible in legacy news outlets as they usually have one chance at publishing a story.
Furthermore, Salmon notes that bloggers have no constraints when it comes to their posts. Those who run their own blogs can post a story of 4000 words if they please, whereas print journalists are usually restricted to around 300 words. This makes gives blogs a possibility for more detailed accounts of news, and a more insightful and educative article for the reader.
According to Rosenberg however, the sheer amount of bloggers on the web makes it difficult for those with talent to shine and establish a large readership. The abundance of average writers posting on the internet turns those who look for news on blogs to legacy media outlets. According to Rosenberg “It’s just dross that obscures the real talent’s output.” In a way, the freedom of the internet backfires as it turns people off the largely mediocre blogs and towards the mainstream.
What Felix Salmon sees as the main difference between amateurs on the internet and professional journalists are the ethical and professional standards expected from the latter, and the possibility for the former to ignore completely. This can create for more honest reporting on the part of the blogosphere as they have limited pressures on being impartial. Sometimes readers want to have a clear idea of what the author of the story believes, instead of trying to decipher their beliefs through the subtle biases in the adjectives used by the author. Thus why some readers turn to blogs, to read the honest opinion of the writer, a way for them to feel more engaged by the story whether they agree with the opinion expressed or not.
Despite their ability to express their opinions without fear for their jobs, bloggers have been taken more and more seriously by official organizations throughout the years. During the coverage of the United States v. Lewis Libby, two websites, for the first time in history, were reserved press seats in a federal trial, not as reporters, but bloggers.
Regardless of the everlasting argument–are bloggers journalists?–bloggers have come a long way. From being dismissed by journalists as a temporary fad, they are now considered a part of the press at exclusive events and trials, and considered journalists by most who no longer rely on the legacy news outlets for the latest in news.