The original home of the blog known as 802 Online

Monday, March 28, 2005

More Bloggers vs. Journalists

Here's a link to a March 27 column by David Shaw from the L.A. Times, arguing that bloggers shouldn't be given the same protections as journalists.

I think he raises some good questions — should bloggers be entitled to legal protections that protect professional journalists, even though there's no editorial filter on what we write? That's a legitimate concern. I think about how difficult it's been for me to learn how to do my job well. That training has been hard-won and extremely valuable. I don't want to discredit that by saying that anybody can make a website and do what I do.

On the other hand, I think he misunderstands blogging when he writes: "Many bloggers — not all, perhaps not even most — don't seem to worry much about being accurate. Or fair. They just want to get their opinions — and their "scoops" — out there as fast as they pop into their brains." This echoes a misconception I heard from some editors at the JSC panel last Friday.

Blogs are a medium, like newspapers, radio, and television. The only difference is that the barrier for entry is lower. And it's not just the great unwashed bloggers who use them. There are plenty of mainstream journalists who blog, not because it's a way to undermine newspapers, but because it's a great way to supplement them. At a time when the amount of information — especially in-depth reporting and LOCAL NEWS — is increasingly limited by the economic realities of a newspaper's bottom line, journalists should be embracing a technology that gives us the freedom to write as much as we need to write, as much as the readers want to read.

Journalists need to put their energy into regulating and developing this medium, and finding innovative ways to impose filters. We can help build the infrastructure of the blogosphere, or we can fight it. Which best serves the public's need and right to know?

Update: Here's what Atrios had to say about the Shaw piece.
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