Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
Explorations of personal and community journalism...
Traditional, Alternative, Online...
2002-2009 blog page archive

Subscribe to "Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jay Rosen at NYU has been writing smartly about this issue for more than a year and will be involved in one more discussion of it at Harvard's Blogging, Journalism & Credibility conference this week.

"Bloggers vs. journalists is over" is his headline for a draft of what is shaping up to be an excellent agenda-setting essay, with a cascade of comments and questions coming in from his weblog readers.

"We have to ask different questions now because events have moved the story forward," Rosen said. I took his request for comments as an excuse to catalog some of my own questions instead of offering answers. But maybe that's the point.

Whether bloggers can "do journalism" has always been a silly question. Of course they can -- and sometimes some of them do, whether you count "original reporting," "fact-checking," "whistle-blowing" or "editorial comment" as journalism.

Other questions I hope get talked about at Harvard (and elsewhere, including my own classes at UT):
  • Do the people know journalists when they see them? Should reporters be issued hats with "Press" in the hatband? In one context or another, I keep pointing to David T. Z. Mindich's scary anecdote about a college student referring to David Letterman as a "journalist."

  • Do folks make fine distinctions between categories like "entertainers," "commentators and pundits," "flacks and promoters," "trade press hacks," "newspaper hacks," "freelance hacks" and "respected journalists"? (I use "hack" to mean something like "good enough to get paid, at least part of the time.")

  • Do they have different expectations along a scale from "incompetent" and "mediocre" through "uneven" to "good," "trustworthy" or even "Pulitzer-quality" practitioners?

  • Do they view the past year's screw-ups by 60-Minutes, USA Today and the New York Times as screw-ups, evidence of a system-wide problem, or both?

  • Are media conglomerates giving editors and broadcast news directors freedom to set their own public-interest news department agendas? ("Conversation instead of lecture" is one possible agenda -- with agenda-setting and trust-building as its goals. Self-righteous crusading and simply being a "newspaper of record" are others.)

  • What does it mean when CNN feels a need to put a disclaimer like this -- "The WB, Warner Books and DC Comics are sister Time Warner companies to" -- on the bottom of a Web story about a TV series' writer who also writes novels and comic books? Do viewers take that to mean CNN is running the story because of those connections, or in spite of them?

  • If the bottom-line and entertainment news are the main thing to the conglomerates, what happens to the public-affairs function of journalism in a democracy? As UNC's Phil Meyer has asked, can public institutions or non-profit foundations support the more resource-intensive, social-service, watchdog functions of the press? Will some profit-making new-media model inherit the job?

For now, advertiser-supported, incestuous "big media" continues to do part of the watchdogging, but has to be watched in turn... by dueling media critics, an alphabet soup of professional associations (SPJ, RTNDA, IRE) and independent citizens, blogging and otherwise.
6:16:59 PM    

The Daily Beacon, the University of Tennessee student newspaper, has added an RSS feed as part of a site redesign... just in time for a semester in which I'm assigning the Beacon to students as a daily reading assignment. (For info about RSS feeds and the programs that receive them, see the left-column links on this weblog's front page, especially this one.)

Unfortunately, the Beacon's RSS feed doesn't include stories or summaries -- just each headline, the date and the story author's name. That puts an extra burden on the headline writers to make the reader click through for the details. I think "Accident claims life of student" does the job. "New year, new you" hints at just another "resolutions" story. "Road work irks students" might work -- but is that story about the university's constant exploration of portable-ditch technology, or about training for a boxing career? (Neither, actually. It's about off-campus highway construction.)

The image at the right shows what the Beacon's RSS feed looks like in one of my aggregators, the Sage plug-in for Firefox. I'm subscribed to the feeds listed in the picture's left column; the right column and another like it show more than 20 Daily Beacon story links. ( I cropped the picture to make it fit.)

Update Note -- Tuesday's headlines had a lot more detail, including one that was almost a full story summary: "Event highlights modern challenges to attaining Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality in society."
3:14:43 PM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2009 Bob Stepno.
Last update: 7/27/09; 3:22:53 AM.
January 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          
Dec   Feb