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Blog battle continues

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

The continuing saga of blog boosters and bashers is getting increasingly bizarre.

The latest to weigh in? Veteran broadcast journalist Dan Rather and fashion maven Anna Wintour.

Rather gave a keynote speech at the South By Southwest music and media festival in Austin, Texas, on Monday in which he lambasted his journalist brethren for becoming lapdogs to power. When asked about blogs, he said he sees great potential in the blogosphere but tempered his enthusiasm with concerns that it's easy to flame someone behind the cloak of anonymity the internet provides.

He expanded on his remarks in an interview with CNet News:

Anybody who blogs, who does real reporting, which is to say, make telephone calls, go interview people, go talk to people, in a spirit of independence ... and [tries] to do journalism with integrity, I would consider a journalist. Good journalism, great journalism, starts with owners who have guts.

Of course there are an increasing number of bloggers now who by any definition are reporters or journalists. There are some others who in my opinion would fit into a gray area.

In stark contrast, the New York Post reports that Vogue uber-editor Anna Wintour has so much contempt for the word "blog" that she refuses to use it and wants her staff to invent a new word for the medium:

According to one Vogue-er, "They are expanding the Vogue Web site and getting more involved with the Internet. But Anna hates the word 'blog' so much, she refuses to call anything on her site a blog and has charged her staff with coming up with a new word that isn't as garish-sounding. She wants it ASAP - in time for launch."

Another staffer refutes the allegation, raising an eyebrow for anyone who read that book or saw that film that's not about her.

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Comments

Steve

Ottawa

A journalist backs up stories with facts and sources. A blogger needs not meet such high standards and is, by most definitions, a gossip columnist. Spouting rumours and half truths is not journalism.

Posted March 21, 2007 07:25 AM

Barry O'Regan

Are Bloggers Journalists? Do Journalists ask the tough questions or practise Due Diligence at the risk of losing Political access or advertisement dollars? Not in my experience. I live in the Left Coast of British Columbia, where the political and social comings and goings on pretty much write themselves, reporters not required.
I provide social and political commentary on everyday life and at times comment on News Stories on my Titled Blog, Barry O'Regan's World, where I title Right Wing Living in a Left Wing World, getting about 18,000 hits a week and invites to other forums around the world to participate. Some Media outlets actually visit my Blog and ask permission to publish my thoughts. So I must have something to say if the media are interested in my Blog. Don't believe me, just google my name and see for yourself.

Posted March 21, 2007 09:48 AM

Chris

Steve's hit the nail on the head. Facts backed by good sources is the basis for journalism.

Unfortunately, there has been a trend over the last 50 years away from simply recounting these facts, and towards framing the facts. In other words, the facts are now used as a way to provide context or a basis for a journalist's opinion. For example, instead of stating that "There were 50 deaths from penicilin last year, according to the Ontario Medical Assocation", journalists now might say, "The Ontario Medical Association has said there were 50 deaths from penicilin last year, leading to concern that vaccinations could be dangerous."

While editors have always been able to create a political bias based on what stories they chose to cover, framing provides an even greater opportunity. The disparity between everyone's favourite example Fox News and a left-leaning broadcaster (some might say CBC News), illustrates the problem.

And so Barry makes a good point. Its important that people check the facts and sources, or at the very least, listen between the lines to distinguish between the facts and the opinion's being stated.

Posted March 21, 2007 12:34 PM

andrea from the fishbowl

Ottawa

The way I see it, bloggers are like newspaper columnists, except in the case of blogging there are more frequent updates and there is almost always a mechanism in place so readers can share their opinions in a public forum.

There are some good bloggers, and many bad bloggers. The fact remains that the majority of bloggers posts are based on their own personal opinions, and those opinions may or may not be grounded in solid fact. Not all blogs are about news and politics, but readers need to be aware that this is not traditional journalism. There's no editor or fact-checker to make sure the writer got their facts straight.

Posted March 21, 2007 01:47 PM

T.A

nb

For the most part there are many bloggers out there that are well educated and actually have something to say.

However in my "opinion", Blogging is just an electronic version of a call in talk show radio program.

Somewhat amusing but I would not stake my reputation on what is read in a blogged comment.

Posted March 21, 2007 03:27 PM

Bill

Montreal

Whether a story is distributed via newsprint, TV or a blog has nothing to do with its Journalistic merits. It is merely the medium used by the writer to get his story/opinion out to the world.

It is how the writer comes by his or her facts (research vs presumption), and how they present them in the story (recounted or framed in opinion), that makes them a journalist or a gossip columnist.

Posted March 21, 2007 03:31 PM

BS

Vancouver

I'd say it isn't really, because most blog's aren't very professional - but it can be, if the person writing the blog is willing to do as much research and use ethical practices, as journalists are supposed to.
Just because it's not from a big media outlet's newspaper/TV broadcast doesn't mean it's not journalism.
But... Just because something's on the internet doesn't mean it's true (or even genuine personal opinion as opposed to spin/advertising).
Confusing yet? Try asking whether mainstream media reports even qualify as real journalism anymore?

Posted March 21, 2007 06:07 PM

Bianca Williams

Toronto

Tim O'Reilly can spout this BS until he's blue in the face but it won't change a thing. Blogging is an independnt venture for people who are fed up with conventional and mainstream media. We can determine what is tasteful and what isn't. And like with all other websites, the traffic on a blog will go up or down depending on the blog's credibility.

And I don't think anyone should even begin to whine about how blogs can contain gossip. YOu can find it on your local magazine and newspaper stand. The tabloids are experts in posting unreliable gossip.

Yes blogs are the soapbox for those of us who want to be heard, but so is the editorial section of any newspaper.

Posted April 11, 2007 03:38 PM

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