American Journalism Review: Blogging Between the Lines. The mainstream media have fallen in love with blogs, launching them on everything from politics to life in Las Vegas to bowling. But does the inherent tension between the blogosphere’s anything-goes ethos and the standards of traditional journalism mean this relationship is doomed?
Well, it took only, what, seven years for blogging to catch on in newsrooms. Given the journalism industry’s hidebound ways, that’s not so bad.
But the same questions — relevant ones — keep popping up. This article talks at great length about the legal and ethical questions, which are mostly being asked by lawyers, if my own experience is any guide.
I recall being summoned to a meeting four or five years ago at Knight Ridder headquarters in San Jose. The topic was blogging, something I’d been doing since 1999 and pushing inside the company ever since. I believed passionately that this format was one of the answers to our long-term troubles — and at the very least it was a great additional tool of our trade.
So, as I drove downtown to the meeting, I had visions of senior management folks asking me to lead or help a company-wide blogging explosion, where Knight Ridder would become the unchallenged leader in this form of new media. It wasn’t to be.
Instead, when I walked into the room, I found a conference table around which were two journalists other than me. Everyone else was a lawyer or an executive with a worried look on his/her face.
And the question wasn’t, “How can we make this happen?”
It was, “How exposed are we?”
Exposed, as in exposed to lawsuits.
We spent most of the time talking about finding ways to insulate the company against the problems the lawyers were being paid to anticipate. We spent very little time talking about how blogs might improve our journalism.
Now my old paper has a bunch of blogs. Everyone does. In the slow-moving ways of newspapers, the progress has been rapid. In the world we actually live in today, it’s been dog-slow.