Today I read yet another cutting-edge piece of “journalism” that claimed that, surprise, surprise, bloggers aren’t replacing “real” journalists.
Wow. I hope he didn’t stay up all night coming up with that.
So, two things that I’d like to say about this.
First of all, blogging isn’t about replacing journalism. It’s about people exercising their right to free speech, and saying whatever they want. Someone once said that the freedom of the press belongs to the man who has one. Well, now we’ve all got one, and we’re using it. Whether what we come up with is “news” or “journalism” is really unimportant. What’s important is that we’re publishing, speaking, saying things. And that we’re writing.
Throughout human history there have been thousands of writers, and a handful of them have had something to say that endured. Now there are millions of writers, and (this should come as no shock to those who understand statistics) a somewhat larger handful of them have something to say that’s enduring. The more people we encourage to write, the more good stuff will be written. But, as always, 90% of everything is crap.
Second, and more interesting to me – sure, bloggers aren’t journalists. But most journalists aren’t journalists either. The article complains that most bloggers write about the topic of “me.” Well, on one hand, journalism is telling the human story. That doesn’t mean that everyone’s story is interesting. But I think that professional journalists are afraid that we’re going to compare what they’re writing to what we’re writing, and realize that we’re just not interested in what they’re writing any more.
Today on the front page of CNN.com, in the list of “latest news”, there is “How much for a date with Jennifer Biel”, “Where are Hollywood’s curvy women”, “‘King of Queens’ star: I’ve seen Suri Cruise”, “Robotic hysterectomy is ‘cool,’ woman says”, “Pet dies after dog-training ‘exorcism'”, “SI.com: ‘Damon sucks’ bibs hit a nerve”, and, oh yeah, “Hezbollah leader apologizes for child deaths”.
With my limited time in the morning, I’m far more likely to read “Year 2038 Bug Strikes Early, Salaam, Mumbai, and Goats and Fish. Is it journalism? I don’t know. But I’m far more interested in the lives of these people than in the life of Jennifer Biel. At least they are real people who I have met, and who I actually think are interesting people.
I tend to think that this is why professional journalists keep setting up this strawman and knocking it down, and why they point to the silly teenage bloggers with their acronym-laden content-free twaddle, rather than to the Matt Drudges of the world. They’re afraid that we’ll notice that the journalists don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation either, and that the point is to communicate, not to wear a press pass.