Bloggers vs. Reporters: Research

March 25, 2007

is blogging innovating journalism?

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 6:46 pm

(just a little note…i’m not gonna cite these things any more because i don’t need to write a paper anymore. i’ll just give you a nice link from now on)

The article (http://www.innovationjournalism.org/archive/INJO-3-4/baltatzis.pdf) by the people at innovationjournalism.org talks about how rumors and rants seem to be commonplace in the blogosphere, so how do you decide which blogs are credible?

Ken Paulman from The Spokesman Review says, “We hold all news to the same standards, regardless of whether it’s online or in print. But that raises a different question: do readers hold information they read on the Internet to a different standard? Do you trust a story more because it’s in black-and-white on a sheet of newsprint, or does it make a difference? What about typos and grammatical errors?

  • i think he makes a valid point. do we think things are less credible because they’re online? maybe so. it seems as if people are putting more faith in the internet, but even so, some are hesitant. every joe-schmoe could, theoretically, type up a blog if he wanted to, so why should we hold the general public to the same standards as those professional journalists?

“Blog responsibly, and you’ll build a reputation for being a trusted news source. Don’t, and you won’t have a reputation to worry about.” (John Hiler)

  • hmm. so it looks like if you keep posting true information, you build a reputation. figures as much. people aren’t typically as stupid as we make them out to be; they won’t believe every single thing on the internet, just as they will believe things that have hard evidence backing them up.

March 21, 2007

what does it all mean?

Filed under: Blogs, new media — Nicki Arnold @ 12:07 am

alright, so i’ve finished my paper and turned it in, although i wish i didnt have to just yet. this issue is one that has just begun to grow and i feel that trying to make any conclusions now is pointless. the credibility of bloggers is increasing and changing and it still all depends on who you ask.

but, since it was for a class and on a deadline, i came up with a conclusion anyhow. when it comes to bloggers having rights and credibility, the public thinks they deserve it (for the most part). this is evident in the rising popularity of blogs and the fact that people are giving more authority to bloggers. however, the big officials are still refusing to accept bloggers as equal to professional journalists, for the most part. For example, the French government recently banned non-professional journalists from filming and releasing footage of violent acts and blogger Josh Wolf has been in jail for a record number of days now for refusing to disclose a tape he has of a political protest.

So what does this mean for the future of blogs? well, it’s hard to tell for sure, but my guess is that, sooner than later, bloggers will begin to get some of the same rights, privileges and access that journalists have. They’ll be protected under a form of the shield law and they will start wearing press passes around their necks at red carpet premiers. but i dont think the laws will be exactly the same…they’ll have to include some caveats for bloggers, because it might make it too easy for a guilty felon to cover his ass by getting his accomplices to become bloggers and therefore protect him as a source. some loophole like that will undoubtedly show up.

this issue, like i said, will only get bigger and will only climb up on the agenda. keep your eyes open, and keep blogging :-)

March 19, 2007

Mediator Fails to Free Imprisoned Blogger

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 9:39 am

Citation

Egelko, Bob. "Mediator Fails to Free Imprisoned Blogger." San Francisco Chronicle  9 Mar. 2007: B4.
     19 Mar. 2007. 19 Mar. 2007 <http://sfgate.com>. 

Summary

Blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned by San Francisco authorities for refusing to show them a video tape of a political protest he shot for his blog. He says he refuses to show the tape because it does not contain any evidence and he does not want to be part of the prosecution. Attorneys argue that Wolf is not an “actual reporter,” so he does not have a shield law protecting him.

Quotes

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Finigan has described Wolf in a court filing as delusional and a self-styled journalistic martyr who was not an actual reporter, just someone with a video camera at a public event. Journalists’ associations, however, regard him as a journalist who was there to film the demonstration for his blog.

On Feb. 6, Wolf became the longest-imprisoned journalist in U.S. history for defying a court order.

Review/Analysis

This case is revolutionary. It seems as if Wolf has the support of the journalistic/blogging community, who do in fact believe that he is a “real” reporter. It’s officials, however, that believe he is not a real reporter, and thus should not have the same rights as a reporter.

Blogs are gaining credibility. It seems as if it doesn’t matter the source, people just want information. Officials may be slow to realize this because independent media and bloggers may pose as a threat.

Gracie Passette Interview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nicki Arnold @ 9:13 am

Citation

Passette, Gracie. Personal interview. 17 Feb. 2007.
http://marketingwhore.naughtyblog.net/

Quotes

“Traditional media has become complacent and has become content with the way things are done.”

“Press is press.”

“Credibility is honesty.”

“A person’s name isn’t a credibility issue.”

Summary & Review

Gracie has been a blogger for 3+ years (it’s hard to estimate).

Independent Media:
Gracie feels that being an independent, non-official media person isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Even though “traditional media says we’re nothing,” she says it depends on what you think makes a person authoritative. She is big on passion, and feels that bloggers have much more passion for their work than most reporters nowadays.
“Traditional media has become complacent and has become content with the way things are done,” because “this is how we [traditional media] do things.” A “bias-free” story is next to impossible for a writer to do because “news stories are not like recipes. They need human interpretation that will be biased.” Gracie says that this has lead news stories to become a boiled-down nothingness that don’t make her feel anything. The passion that used to be apparent in reporting is now absent, and when the writers don’t care about the story they’re writing, the readers won’t either. Gracie feels that part of the reason people don’t care about the war in Iraq, neither do readers. Bloggers, on the other hand, are dedicated to one purpose and one topic that they care about this. Because they’re so passionate about this certain topic, they are dedicated to conveying truthful information by researching and fact-checking. The best bloggers are those that share their expertise and follow something because it’s their passion and they enjoy it, not because any editor told them to. Whereas newspaper journalists attempt to leave their personal opinions and biases out of their articles, bloggers let their bias flow freely and this gives the reader a chance to know the individual.

Should bloggers and journalists have the same rights?
Gracie believes that bloggers should be able to get press passes just the same way that reporters do, but within reason. For example, a person who blogs about her cats shouldn’t have access to the red carpet, but a celebrity blogger should be able to get that press pass. Gracies says “press is press.” Everyone deserves 1st amendment rights, even if the “old white men in suits” don’t give as much of a voice or as much credibility to bloggers.

How does a blogger gain credibility?
A blogger’s weight must be proven through credible posts and the like. Once a blogger is asked to be interviewed, to review books or has a large readership, for example, then the blogger begins to gain credibility. As a blogs voice rises, the blogger makes more money and therefore becomes more credible. Credibility comes down to how researched and passionate a particular post is. Networking also plays a big part in how respected your blog is. If you can get your blog on technorati and get other people, especially bloggers, to respect you for what you’re doing, then your credibility begins to grow. Bloggers start to lose credibility as they talk about silly personal things that are irrelevant to their blog topic. However, Gracie says she believes readers like when people get a little personal and admit their flaws because “credibility is honesty.”
As far as other people’s perception of blog credibility, Gracie says she has noticed that younger people are more accepting and believe credibility is basically the same between a blog and a newspaper. Older people are slightly more resistant, but as more bloggers get out there, there will be more acceptances by older people.

Will newspapers ever become obsolete?
Gracie herself is a huge fan of paper because of the whole experience of it. She says many people enjoy reading the paper at breakfast or curling up on the couch with a book or the paper and prefer that to staring at a computer screen. Newspapers have been losing popularity lately, though, and Gracie says they blame it on the internet and reading less. Gracie claims, however, that the internet has increased how much people read and that people prefer to read blogs on the internet because they prefer that writing style. If newspaper reporters began to write like bloggers do (with passion, character and voice) their popularity would increase.

Does having a bias reduce the credibility?
The simple answer is no; FOX news is an example of a successful network with a stated bias. When you go to a blog, Gracie says, you know that there is a bias, but you read it anyway. Obviously, if you keep reading (and, if you look at the growing popularity of blogs, people are reading), the bias is not turning you away from the blog. Humans have emotions are stories aren’t just the facts, so Gracie says a bias is almost inevitable.

Does anonymity hurt the blogger?
Authenticity doesn’t come from a name, Gracie stated, but it comes from what you do. Bloggers have to preserve their character (as in integrity, not cartoon) to preserve in their blog, so it’s important to maintain identity under a certain pen name. Plus, with the accessibility of the internet (in the fact that everybody online has an email address and can be contacted), “a person’s name isn’t a credibility issue.” Anonymity might even allow a blogger to be more open and honest, because the freedom of anonymity lets the author review something without much regard to the person’s feelings. Conversely, a reviewer who can’t be contacted may be intentionally crueler than a “real” person you could write to/contact.

Blog ethics:
There are ethics in the blogosphere of being honest. Gracie will tell her friends/fellow bloggers when they don’t credit something properly because artists deserve credit where credit is due. Credibility is lost when a blogger doesn’t credit, so in order to be respected, bloggers should be citing sources. Gracie says, though, that it’s mostly about common sense and being a good person.


	

Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 9:10 am

Citation

Seelye, Katharine Q. "Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?" New York Times 14 Mar. 2005. 19 Mar.
     2007 <http://www.nytimes.com>. 

Summary

Newspapers are losing big money to their online editions. People don’t like to pay for things they can get for free. This is a big reason why print newspapers are on the decline. Some newspapers have debated making readers subscribe to their online counterparts for a fee, but it doesn’t look promising right now. Things like national news, which can be found pretty much anywhere, won’t do well if a paper charges because of precisely that. The Wall Street Journal is able to charge its online readers because it is a financial publication, so it can be counted as a business expense. Other small dailies charge for their online papers in an effort to save the print version, but online readership has dropped dramatically, according to Ken Sands, online publisher of Spokane’s The Spokesman-Review.

Quotes

“Print is going the way it’s going, which is down, which is unfortunate because it’s the revenue engine that keeps this whole thing going. The online business model won’t ever be able to support the whole news infrastructure.” (Ken Sands)

“Newspapers are cannibalizing themselves,” said Frederick W. Searby, an advertising and  publishing analyst at J.P. Morgan.

Review/Analysis

This article says to me that the decline of print newspapers is not because people don’t care for “quality news” anymore–it is purely financial. The fact that the online readership is increasing is fact enough that people still enjoy reading the news. People still find their same trust print papers credible, they just don’t like to pay for what they can get for free.

This means that the credibility of newspapers is not on the decline, nor is people’s thirst for reliability. Newspapers are as trustworthy as ever. Blogs, if they hope to be as widely read as newspapers, will have to maintain that same sense of credibility.

journalism.org study

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 1:35 am

Citation

The State of the News Media 2007. Ed. Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel. www.journalism.org. 16 Mar.
     2007. 19 Mar. 2007 <http://stateofthemedia.org>. 

Summary

The people at journalism.org surveyed reporters, journalists, and basically all media people about what’s happening in media now. Basically, the internet is on the rise and newspapers are slowly on the decline because more readers are going online. This means they don’t make as much money, because online advertising isn’t as profitable as print advertising. There’s a lot more, but it’s far too much to summarize.

Quotes

“Is the newspaper industry dying? Not now. On an average day, roughly 51 million people still buy a newspaper, and 124 million in all still read one.

“When online and print readers are combined, the audience for what newspapers produce is higher than ever.”

Review/Analysis

Newspapers specialized before as a sort of “fourth branch” to the government, as a check on the other branches. If another branch did something wrong, they would be sure that the media would find out about it. But, as newspapers die out, there are less checks on the government. The journalism.org study says that basic monitoring of local governments has already started to worsen. This means governments can get away with more. Newspapers need to stay in business to act as a check on the government.

Also, there is a new Answer Culture, as opposed to the old, questioning culture. Journalism used to pride itself on presenting both sides and letting the viewer/reader decide. Now clearly partisan anchors like Bill O’Reilly are becoming more popular. They are outwardly biased, but still, their ratings are doing well. Apparently, being biased does not hurt your credibility. In fact, in this Answer Culture, it might even help it.

As blogs become bigger, they are gaining attention. What makes them special–their vulnerability and changeability– also presents a problem for them because people can “vandalize” them. So, to battle this problem, some bloggers have begun blogger associations to protect the integrity of blogs and create a code of ethics. However, as they establish these more professional associations, they also lose some of the amateur aspect that is so appealing. I think that, with all these professional bloggers joining together, blogs will become increasingly more credible and reliable because, with the ethics code, they will actually have something to answer to.

here is already evidence that basic monitoring of local government has suffered.

March 18, 2007

The Vanishing Newspaper

Filed under: disappearing newspapers — Nicki Arnold @ 11:02 pm

Citation

Meyer, Philip. The Vanishing Newspaper: Saving Journalism In the Information Age. Colombia,
     Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2004. 

Summary

(note: this is only a partial summary as I only read chapters I thought would be relevant)

This book looks at the decline of newspapers from an economic perspective. It emphasizes the business aspect of a newspaper and how accuracy in reporting, credibility and influence are factors of that.

 Quotes

“The decay of newspaper journalism creates problems not just for the business but also for society.” (pg 5)

“To make democracy work, citizens need information.”

Review/Analysis

There will always be a market for journalism, because democracy needs journalism to be successful. The people need to be informed. This, however, is not the issue at hand. The issue i’m trying to solve is whether bloggers give just as good information as journalists/reporters do.

As far as credibility goes, Meyer brought up the idea that maybe readers don’t think that credibility lies in how truthful a story is, but instead just how much they like the paper. He calls it “warm-fuziness.” There was a specific incident where the paper was covering a  story that was bad news for the town. Because the newspaper was the bearer of bad news, the citizens blamed the paper for being bad. The ethics of the paper didn’t change at all, but people’s perception is. So maybe credibility isn’t such a black and white concept with two categories of “credible” and “not credible.” Instead, audiences use the word “credible” to describe a paper when they like it. Then, maybe just as a blog becomes more likable, it becomes credible. Likewise, perhaps newspapers aren’t losing credibility so much as people just don’t like them anymore.

Another issue regarding newspaper’s failing success is that they don’t always fact-check. Often, it’s more important to a paper to be first, not right. Reporters don’t always fact-check, no matter how big the paper is. No matter what the error, be it grammatical, mathematical or otherwise, has the same effect on credibility–people regard teh paper as less credible if it has more errors.

Many regard editors as the saviors of newspapers because they force the reporters to fact check, prevent libel, and overall make newspapers more credible. However, Leo Bogart conducted a study that concluded that editors are not what determine the successfulness of a paper, but instead pricing, distribution and how the population fluctuated in the city. So are editors powerless? This would mean that all those who say blogs are superior  because they don’t have editors would be arguing on a false basis.  Newspapers were successful not because of their contents, but because of their distribution. Can this be translated to blogs? Is a blog more popular because of what site it’s featured on?

Newspapers are still a business. They have shareholders they need to keep. So, they have a financial reason to produce a good, sought-after product. This has the potential to keep newspapers honest and truthful, because if they aren’t honest, they’ll lose readers. If they lose readers, they’ll lose business and money. Also, readers expect a certain amount of quality from a paper. If the paper does not perform, people will stop reading. So, again, the newspapers have an incentive to maintain credibility, whereas blogs don’t have to answer to readers/anyone paying them.

Newspapers are not necessarily declining because they are becoming less credible or worse in anyway. As mentioned before, they are a business. It costs money to produce a newspaper. With the creation and boom of the Internet, the newspaper business gained competition. The internet inherently had a hand up because they essentially have no variable costs–they don’t have to use ink and paper to get every paper out. If readers want a hard copy, they have to print it themselves. Now websites are providing the same thing that a newspaper does, except for (basically) free. So the internet is financially forcing newspapers out of business. It doesn’t have to do with credibility–this doesn’t mean that newspapers are less credible or the internet is more trustworthy. However, people will always need information (remember that democracy thing?) so there will always be a market for newspapers…just not necessarily in print.

Newspapers vs. Blogs Opinion

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 1:39 pm

Citation

Booth, David. "Newspapers vs. blogs: no comparison: Internet is more about sifting for truth than
     surfing." National Post [Toronto, Canada] 2 Feb. 2007, Toronto ed.: DT2. LexisNexis Academic.
     LexisNexis. U of California, Santa Barbara. 18 Mar. 2007 <http://web.lexis-nexis.com/
     universe>. 

Summary

This guy bought a hi-def TV and went online to find info about it. He was overwhelmed by the technical jargon the reviews used and thought the reviews were idiotic. He believes newspapers will live on despite the boom of the internet because they sort out the good from the bad.

Quotes

“Unfortunately, other than reviewing those few Web pages that disseminate useful information, I can offer you no formula for ferreting out the good from the truly demented. That is why, in the end, I think newspapers are going to survive the worldwide onslaught just fine.”

“Any newspaper section is only as good as its editors and writers and we at Driving are lucky to have a roster of the very best.”

Review/Analysis

Because this is just an opinion column (and a very ranty one), I don’t think i’ll use this much except to demonstrate dissenting opinion. I think he has a point, though, when he says that newspapers weed out the morons. Online, because everyone has a voice, obviously sometimes some idiots will write things. Newspapers have an advantage, though, because they have editors that can nix people if they don’t write well/honestly, and can correct errors.

March 17, 2007

france censors blogs!??!

Filed under: Blogs — Nicki Arnold @ 12:19 pm

Citation:

Sayer, Peter. "France Bans Citizen Journalists From Reporting Violence." InfoWorld 6 Mar. 2007. 17
     Mar. 2007 <http://www.infoworld.com/>. 

Summary:

France has banned citizen journalists from filming violent act in an attempt to stop “happy slapping.” They say only those whose job it is to report on violent acts or people who are filming for evidence are the only ones allowed to film. Acts are punishable by 5 years in prison and a fine equivalent to $98,537, which is sometimes more than the violent act itself. The government is also proposing a certification system for Web sites, blog hosting sites, mobile-phone operators and Internet service providers. The government will approve them if they abide by certain rules. Reporters without Borders is worried that such a system would cause excessive self-censorship by these companies in an effort to be approved by the government.

Quotes:

He is concerned that the law, and others still being debated, will lead to the creation of a parallel judicial system controlling the publication of information on the Internet.” (he=Pascal Cohet, a spokesman for French online civil liberties group Odebi)

Review/Analysis

This article is important in that is it the first piece of legislation (at least that i’ve come across) that explicitly distinguishes “citizen journalists” (bloggers) and professional journalists. Apparently, the French government does NOT think that bloggers should have the same rights as journalists. This, in their hopes, will stop happy slapping (like when Billy slaps Jessie so Billy & friends can film it and laugh at it later). They are assuming that, if these people will be prosecuted if they are caught, they’ll stop doing it. The law does, however, allow people to videotape acts that will then be used in jurisdiction, so that’s good.

I can use this to discuss, in my paper, what people really think of bloggers vs. journalists. Clearly, the French government does not feel that they deserve the same rights. It seems like they’re making a judgment on the type of people bloggers/citizen journalists are–irresponsible and destructive. I think this will have a huge backlash in the blogging community because many bloggers are not these types of people.

You’ll have to excuse me for a second…I’m about to become completely and opendly unbiased in reviewing this information. WTF FRANCE?! I understand your intentions. Yeah, i wanna stop unruly teens from hurting people too, but i can’t fix the whole world! just because you don’t let them film it anymore doesn’t mean they wont do it. This will definitely lead to censorship of more things (i know, slippery slope isn’t that reliable logic-wise, but i still think there’s some truth to it, esp here). Without the check of the press, the government will be able to get away with more. What if people now can’t report on things that political people do? oh, actually, the law thought of that…anyway, nevermind all this political stuff, gettin me all riled up.

March 12, 2007

“Study shows media less defensive, more fearful, about the Internet”

Filed under: new media, news web sites — Nicki Arnold @ 11:51 pm

Citation

Johnson, Steve. "Study Shows Media Less Defensive, More Fearful, About The Internet." Chicago Tribune 12 Mar. 2007. 12 Mar. 2007 <http://www.chicagotribune.com>. 

Summary

The Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted a study of media sources and news websites to determine their feelings toward traditional media and new (internet) media. It focused also on revenue gained/lost both in print and online. Four years ago, these old media companies weren’t giving enough thought to the internet as a news source, but now, the report says, they’re scared of it. The director of the PEJ, Tom Rosenstiel, says this is progress. He thinks this fear will force them to turn to the internet in response to the steady decline of print and TV news.

Old media sources are losing revenue because they’re losing readers. They’re thinking of new ways to generate revenue. One way they could is by only allowing subscribed users to view the content of their website, but the report shows that users are unlikely to want to pay for news content on the internet.

Additionally, the most popular news sites (Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN) do not provide in-depth coverage of stories. Instead, they are “Jacks of All Trades,” meaning they cover everything, but not really well.

Quotes

  • “In four years, the defensiveness about the Internet has given way to abject fear,” Rosenstiel says. “And journalists now see the Internet as a possible salvation and not this horrible threat to their standards. They are experimenting wildly, but no formula has emerged and maybe even less of an idea of how to pay for it.”
  • Some of the accepted wisdom about the Internet as dialogue rather than lecture isn’t borne out on the sites as a whole.
    “What we found is that it’s still a lecture, except that to some extent I can now customize the lecture,” he says.
  • …the news organizations seem, at least, to be facing up to reality.
    “People think if anything’s going to save them, it’s going to be that screen,” Rosenstiel says. “How, they haven’t figured out. But now they think this is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Review/Analysis

This article was helpful to me in pointing out some of the trends in news Web sites. News web sites, while they are not technically blogs, are just a touch away. Print and other traditional types of media, like television, are losing viewers, but this isn’t news. I thought it was very interesting that Rosenstiel pointed out that media people being fearful was a good thing. I agree with him. If they fear the new media and the internet as a viable source of media, that means that it is a viable and powerful news source. This opens doors for potential bloggers or citizen journalists to put their two cents in on pertinent news.

Rosenstiel also addressed the changing face of news Web sites. He mentioned that they may have different looks, much like the morning news looks as compared to the evening news or how a weekly periodical is different from a daily newspaper. I think it is important to analyze and understand that, with time, internet news will change, just as television news has changed since it first came out. I think that with this change will come more credible news sources online and they will become more respected.

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