10 March 2008

Bloggers are the new journalists, whether you like it or not

The American media's coverage of foreign events leaves a great deal to be desired. (By the way, America, the Serbian ruling coalition collapsed this weekend. This is kind of a big deal.) I've blogged and tweeted a bit about this for some time now.

A big reason for this is the massive cutback in US networks' spending on foreign bureaus. As Jon Freidman writes, another big reason is the editorial decision-making at major media companies. When Roger Clemens and Britney Spears get more coverage than Vojislav Kostunica and Alvaro Uribe, Americans don't know enough about the world beyond their borders.

Enter the blogosphere, and the new media corporation. Blog hubs like Global Voices Online provide the kind of diverse media coverage that major news networks won't or can't. How do they do it? Simple - they use bloggers as foreign correspondents and they work cooperatively. GVO likes to focus on what the western media doesn't. Frankly, that gives them a lot of ground to cover.

Look at what happened in Armenia. (hat tip to Profy.) The media there is state-owned. So when a state of emergency was declared there in late February after a contested election and subsequent violence, the only thing the government wanted people to know is what they told them. Traditional independent media, if it were there, would be easy to identify and close down. Online media is a bit more difficult to squelch, but it appears the government even took the step of shutting down YouTube in the country.

Enter the blogosphere, with hundreds of sites under the blogger and wordpress domains, publishing information that may be biased but is clearly more independent. And they pop back up as quickly as they're taken down.

Of course, "citizen journalism" (I still hate that term) doesn't have to be inspired by a political crisis. From a business perspective, Global Voices Online is actually the new model news network. It's a global news and commentary channel, complete with a vast roster of correspondents and a breaking news service via Twitter. And they pull it off at a minute fraction of the cost that CNN or BBC would incur.

I've written about this before - specifically looking at Green Options as a model for this. GO is more of a niche publication, but recently it's branched out into a network of very specific blogs, all covering different aspects of environmentalism. It's an enviro-channel now.

If you want to see the future of media, look at Green Options and Global Voices Online today.

Of course, the news networks may play the "bloggers aren't journalists" card again. However, most of the writing that you see on these blogs is as good or better from a journalistic standpoint. In many cases these are beat reporters with a better knowledge of their beats. In others, it's easily identifiable opinion, much as you'd see on any op-ed page.

We know that journalists rely more on blogs every day as sources and for story ideas. Many journalists write blogs of their own. Now if they could only follow bloggers' lead...

1 comment:

PunditMom said...

To paraphrase Yoda, follow us, they will! ;)