When Blogs and Journalism Collide

Network_smallThe New York Times reported yesterday that a blogger, editor and writer, Joshua Micah Marshall from the Talking Points Memo, has been named the recipient of the 2007 George Polk Award for Legal Reporting. The award honors his reporting of the firings of eight United States attorneys, and, according to the announcement, his “tenancious investigative reporting sparked interest by the traditional news media and led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.” Quoted in the article, Marshal says, “I think of us as journalists; the medium we work in is blogging.”

The NYTimes article illustrates a few key trends:

  1. Further democratization of news. This is the “first Internet-only news operation to receive the Polk.” With today’s online media, journalism is further democratized, and people are reading, listening, sharing and following the news, no matter where it’s originating.
  2. No barriers. Internet-only news sites have the relative freedom of time and space to write continuing stories that build as the research and investigation builds, not just stories that start and end in one edition.
  3. We’re all in this together. This type of reporting combines three elements, pulling them together into one big picture: original reporting, reports from other news sites, and reports from readers. More on this in a minute.
  4. Influence goes both ways. And finally, blogs and online-only news sites are increasingly influencing the reporting of mainstream media publications. (See Brodeur’s survey summary from January 2008 on the influence of blogs on journalists.)

More on point 3: this style of journalism has been dubbed “link journalism” by blogger Scott Karp of the Publishing 2.0 blog, defined as “linking to other reporting on the web to enhance, complement, source, or add more context to a journalist’s original reporting.”

Karp’s discussion stems from the NYTimes ethics article on John McCain last week. JigSaw (via Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine) highlights how this kind of journalism makes reporting better, even for mainstream publications (and maybe especially when they get things wrong). In the context of a discussion that focused more on the reports and tips from readers aspect, Jarvis had previously described something like this as “networked journalism.”

This idea of networked journalism or link journalism goes beyond the “citizen journalist” phrase used to describe early bloggers, an idea that still puts the burden of production on a single individual or small group of individuals. Now, the new in news is as likely to come from the audience/readers of those blogs as from the bloggers themselves.

Photo credit: network by dsevilla

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Posted on: February 26, 2008
Posted by: Laurel

2 thoughts on “When Blogs and Journalism Collide”

  1. Ed Kohler says:

    Bloggers have some major advantages over mainstream media. Mainly, in this case, the ability to keep working and working a story rather than having to move on to different topics based on editorial choices outside of their control. JMM’s situation is somewhat unique in that he has more time and money to devote to stories like this (not to mention talent) than most bloggers doing journalism.

  2. Laurel Hart says:

    Good point. Not all bloggers have the ability or resources to do what Marshall is doing, and for that matter, not all bloggers are journalists. To channel a different Marshall (McLuhan), the medium and the message are not always one.

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