This piece in the NY Times last week got me thinking again about the evolution of the media's reaction to bloggers - and more importantly, how bloggers elevate the quality of journalism. I guess the mainstream media's focus on bloggers has evolved from complaining that they're not journalists to now explaining how their type of journalism is somewhat stressful. (I wonder what kind of shape the average Times beat reporter is in.)
I've written a few times now how blogs like Global Voices Online and Green Options represent the future of collaborative (or "network") journalism. They're made up of loosely-knit groups of freelance writers and reporters, scattered across the globe, who contribute to one or more online properties as they write their own content. These online networks exist and produce content at a miniscule fraction of the cost of network news, and they have the ability to bring everything network news does - text, audio, video, interactive graphics, even access to "expert" sources and commentary - with increasing production quality.
This model continues to evolve as journalists leverage blogs (some surveys suggest up to a quarter of journalists are active bloggers) and other tools such as twitter, and produce their content in various forms - text, audio, video.
An emerging trend I (and no doubt others) see - journalists are moving to the online channel to report on news that they feel aren't getting adequate coverage from the "mainstream" or "traditional" media. Global Voices Online examines news not commonly found in the Western world. Green Options covers environmental news you won't see on the front page of any consumer newspaper in America. "Bicycle Mark," an independent journalist who has amassed an impressive collection of work at citizenreporter.org, focuses almost exclusively on "under-reported news." Political blogs (on both sides of the ideological spectrum) have long complained that the mainstream media either misses the facts or misses the story. Now journalists seem to agree - though perhaps not with the same ideological biases - and they're doing something about it.
In addtion to blogs, we're seeing the development of ReporTwitters and (soon) DailyTwitter - collections of independent and very smart journalists, with diverse interests, creating their own forums to showcase their work. Blogs will work hand-in-glove with these other social media channels, creating everything you can get on TV or at washingtonpost.com and more. For example, Global Voices Online can go remote places CNN can't (or won't) - because their loose network of global bloggers means they're already there. And as I've said before, a number of GVO folks are already active on Twitter and elsewhere.
So the big-money network journalists who have for a while now have bashed bloggers with the "they're not journalists" battle cry now need to think of something else. Increasingly people are looking to blogs (and other social media platforms) to get real news, reported by real journalists. And if you've read some of this next-generation, new-channel journalism, you know the quality of reporting is quite good.
Perhaps it's competition, and not standards or lifestyle, that has the news networks all, umm, atwitter.