Thursday, February 03, 2005

Credibility, protection and blogging journalists

The trend from Always On is of course not the only example of blogs and commercial publications merging. has had a blog since 2003, the Guardian has several different blogs, BBC made "reporter's logs" in 2003, to cover the war in Iraq and later the election in USA, while The crippled monkey covers news coverage of disabled people(!). CNN had several blogs for the election. Some, like Chicago Tribune, make blogs that serve as a personal column, while the Norwegian paper VG has a techno-gadget-blog reporting on things for nerds.

With the many mixed genres of blogs appearing not just around but also within the established media, it's no wonder journalists and teachers have started worrying about the ethics of blogging, the distinction between blogs and established news media, the question of credibility, the integrity of bloggers, of blogging journalists, of readers, the role of journalists in a new media world... the list is long. And while blogs criticise the established media, the journalists strike back. And this happens through powerful media such as in this interesting article questioning the intent and integrity of the writers behind the blog Power Line, the blog of the year 2004 in Time Magazine.

Norwegian journalists have discovered blogs too., the Norwegian magasine for journalists, writes about VG-nett's new blog Teknoisme. This leads to an intense discussion at the Norwegian yahoo group normedia (moderated, restricted access and in Norwegian) discusses issues for people working in the media in Norway. In the end of January 2005 one of their issues was journalism, blogging and the role of the journalist.

In Norway the issue isn't so much journalists and papers being criticised by bloggers, as journalists criticising their own work in blogs. The need to distinguish between the private opinion and the professional reporting is emphasized, but the line is blurred as blogs are incorporated into the established media. A Norwegian journalists has written irrevelantly of the Norwegian Queen in his blog, and the Press profession's board (PFU) rises the question: should blogs be considered subject to the same rules and ethics and the established news media?

The discussion touches on an important issue, the matter of credibility. Blogs operate on a different economy from other media. In my opinion this changes the matter of credibility. Journalists relate on the credibility of the paper. PFU is part of the establishment that gives credibility to the established press, and when journalists write on their own time and risk, they should be prepared to face the consequences without the benefit of editors, proofreaders and the newsdesk.

A journalist is trusted or not depending on how reliable the paper/station she works for is considered to be. Only special journalists have a position in the consciousness of the readers which gives them credibility of their own - for good or bad. A blogger relies on her personal credibility, which is often connected to the professional status. This leaves a blogger a lot more vulnerable to criticism, and the public attention to the individual can be ruthless - as the Norwegian journalist discovered.

No comments: