Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blogs and Citizen News

Citizen-based media is an increasingly popular mode of communication and information sharing. The reliability and value of “journalism” or “news” blogs in particular has been a hot topic for class discussion throughout the semester. In fact, citizen media has become such a prominent aspect of the media that the State of the News Media 2009 conducted an analysis of more than 350 journalism sites (145 were citizen sites) to see how legacy and citizen-based sites compare. The study, which looked at citizen blogs, citizen news sites and legacy media, found that blogs have some distinguishing features when it comes to reporting and content (Citizen based media, State of the News Media 2009.)

Many people assume citizen news sites are more interactive and user driven than their legacy media counterparts. However, the study found that blogs are actually less open to interaction than even legacy media. Blogs had the least polls and surveys of all three categories studied and were also the lowest scoring category in audience uploading/sharing capabilities (photos, video, letters to the editor, etc.) The idea that blogs are more user friendly and interactive has been proven to be a misconception

 Some findings pertaining to blogs were consistent with class discussion, however. For example, blogs generally provide less sourcing and don’t maintain the same professional standards as legacy media (such as providing legal and basic contact information.) Sixty-four percent of blog posts contained no sources (of legacy news sites, 46 percent of content had at least two sources.) (Citizen based media, State of the News Media 2009.) For readers looking for sourcing, blogs are not the place to find thorough interviews or balanced reporting. However, most people understand this when going to a blog for news. Also, for those who are sticklers for professionalism, most blogs just do not hold themselves to the same standards placed on legacy media. This is one of the main criticisms discussed in class. Since blogs do not typically do the same kind of reporting and sourcing as legacy news, it is sometimes difficult to determine what kind of bias might be present in blogger content. Even when it comes to basics such as contact information, blogs were much less likely to provide anything other than an email address. Twenty percent didn’t even provide an email, compared to only two percent of the legacy media studied (Citizen based media, State of the News Media 2009.)

It’s important to note that blogs are not the same as citizen news sites, which came closer to legacy news media in most categories. This medium takes some aspects of the citizen blog and the legacy news site and combines them into what might be a strong emerging trend for online journalism. The study later concluded that people do not necessarily want to be their own journalists but rather their own editors (Citizen based media, State of the News Media 2009.) Many citizen news sites give people the freedom to do just that. One such example is the Globalpost.com, which is combining the professionalism of legacy media with crowdsourcing, or using the audience to generate ideas and sometimes coverage (New Ventures, State of the News Media 2009.) This, of all the emerging trends in journalism, might be one to latch onto as it could be the one to bring together the best of both the legacy media and blogging worlds.

1 comment:

  1. How do they collaborate?

    I agree with so many of the ideas in your blog. The state of the media report captured the similarities, strengths and weaknesses of blogs, citizen news sites and legacy media very well. But it seems that while the industry is starting to understand the roles that each plays in media, it is still unclear if, and how they work together.
    For example, blogs on legacy sites are not always consistent with the professional values of journalists and blogging as discussed in class today. While on the other hand they can be incredibly useful in connecting the journalist or media organization with the public it serves.