The journalistic value of blogs

by Jake Quinn

I’ve been approached by a number of researchers in the last few weeks who are conducting studies about blogging or political blogging.  One journalism student in particular wanted to know what bloggers think about the journalistic value of blogs.

This one, in short, thinks very little – about the journalistic value that is.

They can however play other important roles within the political process, such as lobbyists – most of the political blogs in New Zealand are, after all, clearly partisan and act more as message massagers and kite flyers than balanced analysts.

The Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia definition of journalism includes that it is sometimes “used to refer to writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”

Here political blogs generally fall short. Interpretation is pretty much the modus operandi.

Most rely very heavily on the traditional news media for their content, to which they apply their analysis, interpretation or spin.

Others simply aggregate news, posting stories that catch their interest adding “good point”, “indeed”, “outrageous” or whatever truism springs from their keyboards.

There is nothing wrong with operating a site in this manner – it’s just that it’s not journalism.

Confounding the view that blogging is not a source of competition for serious journalism, recent Technorati research has found that bloggers do not consider other blogs a substitute for other news sources and the majority do not consider online media more important than traditional media.

Blogging and other forms of citizen journalism do not, as of yet, fulfil a journalistic role .  The technorati research, which I will blog on in a moment, seems to support this view.

[For further reading on this topic check out this post on Werner63’s Weblog]