Chapters 4 and 7 – Bloggers vs. Journalists

vsWhile Nicholas Carr argues the Internet is harming our intellectual capacity in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Brian Carroll gives evidence to the contrary, noting several real-life examples which demonstrate the true power of networking and, more specifically, blogging.

One of these examples describes the way in which bloggers became the primary fact-checkers (and soon the dismissers) of a major news story, calling into question the validity of CBS News’ report of four documents which supposedly displayed the efforts of President Bush to receive special treatment upon his arrival to office. Immediately after the report aired, bloggers (naturally largely conservative in nature) began to draw attention to the fact that, given the way in which the memos appeared to be constructed, it was impossible they be from the early 1970s as the technology that would have been required had not yet come into existence. In the end, it was crowd-sourcing which produced the best coverage, and this brings into question the capability of the blogger compared to that of the journalist.

As Carroll discusses, the question most commonly asked in the blogger vs. journalist debate is whether or not anyone with a blog should be considered a journalist. This, Carroll notes, is like asking if anyone with a camera should be considered a photographer, a question that has spurred much controversy in both the art and news industries. During my internship at National Geographic this summer, I was exposed to this issue more than ever before, and the Manager of the Creative Office and my supervisor, John Rutter (who, incidentally, detests Instagram with every ounce of his being), lamented the decline of photography as a viable career path as he informed me how, in recent years, several major news sources have actually dismissed their photographers and simply equipped their journalists with iPhones. I was disappointed to learn this but not really surprised: today’s society revolves around convenience, and the sad fact of the matter is most people are willing to give up the quality and artistry of photography and even, to some extent, the actual veracity of information simply for the satisfaction of immediacy.

The primary concern of blogging is to publish information as quickly as possible and then, as Carroll states, start “filtering” after. The concern of journalism, on the other hand, is quite the opposite, though it is not rare for journalists to disregard crucial steps in fact-checking when sitting on a monumental story as evidenced by CBS News journalist Dan Rather and his faulty report regarding President Bush. Only when information has been gathered through, as Carroll references, Kovach and Rosenstiel’s (2007) “the discipline of verification,” can blogging be considered journalism, and so, in the end, it is quality that remains to be the defining factor.

Discussion Questions:

What makes photography art?

Would you rather receive news about a significant event today – even if that news were full of error – or wait until tomorrow for an accurate and extensive report?

P.S. Needless to say, I didn’t find Chapter 4, “Headlines and Hypertext,” extremely interesting….:)

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