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04/10/2006

Is the blogosphere the MSM's farm club?

Bull_durham

Heads up, bloggers! The Washington Post is waving paychecks.

According to Editor & Publisher (via The Raw Story):

The Washington Post's site was recently stung by its hiring of 24-year-old conservative blogger Ben Domenech, who was found to have plagiarized and made racially insensitive comments before he resigned after only three days of blogging.

Now, however, according to a report on the Web site Raw Story, washingtonpost.com is again trying its hand at extending its opinion blogging, this time with the coming hire of one conservative blogger and another liberal one.

If it did hire bloggers from opposite ends of the political spectrum, the site likely hopes to avoid the kind of criticism it received originally from liberals for only hiring the conservative Domenech.

Blogs are also infiltrating The New York Times, according to public editor Byron Calame (who seems less than thrilled about the prospect):

Across the paper's Web site, blogs run by assigned staffers are posting opinions and information they consider insightful on topics such as dining, wine, real estate and the financial world. And The Times has "a bunch on the drawing boards," Jonathan Landman, the deputy managing editor, told me Tuesday.

The Times has been slower than the online versions of The Washington Post and other newspapers to embrace full-fledged blogging. That cautious approach hasn't bothered me, given my conviction that serious journalism starts with the authentication and verification of information. Staffers directly posting their own thoughts or those of others that they found insightful—generally the essence of blogging—was a step to be taken with care at a serious paper.

It's interesting that The Times' approach is to set staffers up with blogs rather than to bring bloggers into the paper itself. Perhaps they fear that "unserious" bloggers would have the place trashed in no time, leaving unauthenticated,  unverified information littered everywhere.

Elsewhere in the mainstream press, a handful of bloggers—mostly conservative—have already found a second home: Matt Welch at The Los Angeles Times; Glenn Reynolds at The Guardian; Ed Morrissey, Dean Barnett, Hugh Hewitt and slew of other over at Jonathan Last's The Daily Standard.

Some time ago, I wrote that if journalism is the first rough draft of history, then blogging is the first rough draft of journalism. By the same token, I have a general sense that the mainstream media looks at the blogosphere partly as a repository of ideas free for the taking, partly as research service and partly as a farm club for editorial talent.

But it seems to me the blogosphere is more than just the sum of what it represents to journalism. It's not, if you will, an adjunct to the fourth estate but a fifth estate in its own right, with its own evolving ethos and its own healthy skepticism of the other four. At heart, I think, most bloggers don't aspire to be journalists any more than they aspire to be rock stars or quarterbacks or CEOs—even if their blogging occasionally places them in a quasi-journalistic role, as they're caught up in a breaking story.

We blog, not to become journalists, but to be more of what we already are—informed, thoughtful, articulate citizens of a democratic nation.

For us, blogging isn't a training ground for the big leagues, for "the Show."

It is the Show.

Posted by Rodger on April 10, 2006 at 09:25 AM | Permalink

Comments

Amen Rodger! Great thoughts. For me too, blogging is The Show. Just because the publishing system is different doesn't mean the reporter/analyst/pundit is inherently different.

I think the line between "blogging" and "MSN" is slowly blurring in people's minds and that we will eventually see the dominance of a hybrid combining the best (and maybe worst) of both worlds.

Posted by: Easton Ellsworh | Apr 13, 2006 1:55:30 AM

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