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photos by Lara Shipley

Division of Labor

July 20th, 2004 · No Comments

Normally, I share the bloggers’ impatience with the occasional op-ed squib by a professional journalist staring down his nose at we mere online diarists.  But this LA Times piece actually makes an important point: Blogging isn’t journalism, nor should it really be judged by journalism’s standards.  I did a panel on blogging a couple weeks back at which someone asked whether I thought we bloggers were somehow “debasing” journalism.  I suggested that this was akin to accusing Wall Street bond traders of debasing the Harlem Globetrotters because their slam dunks weren’t, on average, very good.  In other words, with a few noteable exceptions like Josh Marshall, it doesn’t really make sense to talk about us as engaged in the same game: Even most of the blogging I do for Reason, where my job does entail some actual journalism, doesn’t really pass muster as journalism. 

That scarcely demotes us to some kind of media ghetto: Newspaper op-ed pages and the content of plenty of cable “news” shows aren’t journalism in this sense either.  But I welcome the credentialing of bloggers precisely because, just as the blog form has already allowed us to discover people who are good at crafting opinion pieces but hadn’t previously found an outlet in mainstream venues, we’ve got a chance now to see which bloggers have heretofore unknown observational and storytelling skills.  And because of the distributed nature of the medium, we can take advantage of skill sets dispersed across different people: Reporting from a set of bloggers and blog readers, adaptation of that reporting into news analysis by the “thinker” bloggers, and filtering of the wheat from the chaff by the “linkers”.

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