[MAIN BLOG POST 2- Week 4] Bloggers vs. Main Stream Media

13 Jun

Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

The line between journalist and blogger, peer-reviewed material and self-assessed content is becoming significantly blurred. The focus for consumers has moved towards the timeliness of the news reported rather than the credibility of the source. The challenge this presents Russell describes as the possible ‘decay of shared standards of quality.’ (2008: 72) However, the Egyptian political conflict, I will argue, illustrates that it is no longer a question of whether one form of reporting is better or more effective than another but rather that the search for truth is now a collaborative process between all forms of media.

Particularly in the context of state censorship on journalists whereby totalitarian or undemocratic countries have jailed, prosecuted or silenced journalists during times of political unrest, weblogs and micro-blogging sites like Twitter have been invaluable. The Guardian online illustrates this point perfectly. The site recently posted a thorough timeline of reported news during the Egyptian Protests in January. The timeline includes official statements by state governments involved, twitter updates that reported live on recent developments in the conflict, blogs that it made through the internet ban and of course mainstream news articles that came to surface. Despite the internet restrictions, Egyptian blogger Issandr El Amrani consistently reported on the chaos in Cairo. Although his posts were not a comprehensive analysis of the situation, his blog pulled a large following and his blogging was included in mainstream news sites reporting. Singer (2006: 28) and Lasica, discussing the emergence of ‘citizen journalism’ in other similar contexts (Burma, Libya, Tunisia, Iran) refer to this relationship between blogger and journalist as ‘symbiotic’. Lasica, unlike Russell, highlights that there is no need to place expectation on Bloggers to produce a “complete, unvarnished encapsulation of a story.” Thus, in isolation, bloggers do not more effectively inform the public. However, this statement is also true of mainstream media outlets.

Peer-review processes often result in the non-immediacy of news and the commercial interests of mainstream media groups the public often regard as limiting the effectiveness of reporting. These considerations place even greater emphasis on the benefit of collaboration. Many fellow bloggers have supported this stance, however it has perhaps been overlooked that mainstream news sites have considerably changed since the proliferation of blogging and social media. Journalists who deny the credibility of bloggers only have to look to most of the major news networks to see that ‘feature bloggers’, the use of bloggers in reporting, and even the call for more contribution of blogs or citizen journalism are common. CNN’s iReport “where people take part in the news with CNN,” encourages people to do exactly that. ‘Your voice, helps shape how and what CNN covers every day’ The ‘elite media’ and bloggers can only effectively cover the news in cooperation.

Image courtesy of the Guardian Online. Cairo Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

References:

Singer, J.b. 2006, ‘Jounalists and New Bloggers: Complements, Contradictions and Challenges’ in Bruns, A. & Jacobs, J. (eds) 2006, Uses of Blogs, New York, Peter Lang Publishing. 23-32.

Russel A. et al 2008, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Network Culture’ in Varnelis, K. (ed) 2008, Networked Publics, Cambridge, MIT Press, 43-76.

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