Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blogs: Threat or menace?

Over at Portfolio.com, Howell Raines has posted a feature/essay about media-industry blogger Jim Romenesko. If you remember the role Romenesko’s blog played in Raines’ departure from the New York Times in the wake of the Jayson Blair scandal – a role Raines readily acknowledges – that simple statement alone should be all the incentive that news junkies need to click over there immediately. The piece is, not surprisingly, provocative. Listen closely, and you'll hear the sound of an axe being grinded. Read carefully, however, and you'll derive some food for thought. Among the money quotes:

“Newspaper publishers assumed that even if the printing press disappeared, the internet would still have an insatiable need for their basic product—verified facts, hierarchically arranged by importance. But Romenesko’s rapid growth showed that even newsrooms are part of the emerging market for an unprocessed sprawl of information, delivered immediately and with as few filters as possible between the fingertips of one laptop user and the eyeballs of another. In short, it’s not technology per se that’s killing newspapers; it’s plummeting demand for quality information…

“In little more than a century, journalism has been conducted under a variety of short-lived labels. Yellow journalism begat objective journalism, which begat investigative journalism, which begat advocacy journalism. To some of us, the New Journalism looked like a destination, but that was before the passage through gossip journalism to our next stop: fact-free journalism…

“[Romenesko has] proven that speedily aggregated, often unsubstantiated information is marketable. Both the Huffington Post and the investors behind Tina Brown’s proposed aggregation site are also betting on that."

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