LJWorld.com weblogs Devin Lowell's Community Journalism Blog

The Quiet Revolution

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      The advent of the blog created a new platform for millions of people to disseminate information, ideas, and opinions into the aether of the Internet. Some thought this would be a contributing factor in the death of the traditional media. >

      However, reporters and media outlets soon integrated and appropriated this bold new format, synthesizing the old with the new. Now, with blogs, reporters and news organizations have a new way to present the vast amounts of information that might not make it to press. They allow more stories to be told, and for the reporters to interact with their readers and others.

      Andrew Revkin, environmental reporter for the New York Times, is an excellent example of a accomplished and storied journalist making great use of the blogging platform. Although his reporting often does the same in a more traditional format, Revkin uses his Dot Earth blog to write about humanity's relationship with its environment. With a subject matter that has news nearly every moment, a blog can be quite the useful thing for a reporter, to explore the topic in multiple, nontraditional manners. Also, the environment can be a complex topic, and Revkin uses Dot Earth to answer his readers questions. For instance, after reporting on the falling budgets of government and private research into alternative energy, Revkin answered his readers questions about the subject on his blog.

      Another innovative use of blogging by reporters is their transformation into actual news sources themselves. The various blogs on Wired.com allow the magazine to report on dozens, if not hundreds of stories every day, whether they're from the video game industry, to the U.S. military, to scientists discovering new wonders. Wired covers so many topics of interest to so many different audiences, and its blogs allow readers to access an enormous amount of information.

      Now, the use of blogs by reporters is not without its pitfalls. Revkin makes no secret of his faith in the science behind global climate change, science that has been disputed by many others. The revealing of a reporter's hand, so to speak, on a controversial matter like this one might turn more skeptical readers away, thus hurt the cause of the reporter (and many others). However, this is much like the issue of objectivity with the cable networks. Fox News draws a conservative audience, MSNBC a liberal one, and those who don't believe in the science behind climate change, or care about humanity's affect on the Earth, probably won't read Dot Earth.

      Some standards should have to be applied, of course. Just like anything published by a newspaper, a reporter's blog posts should go through an editor first, and ought to be approved. But any reporter worth his or her mettle probably won't go off doing anything shameful or unethical on a blog. Journalists should hold themselves to extremely high standards, in terms of what they're producing, in any format, print, broadcast, or blog.

      Blogging exists, and we can't go back to a time before it existed or before it became a tool for the news. Personally, I wouldn't want to. As a daily reader of all of the blogs mentioned here, I'm thankful for the breadth, depth, and wealth of information reporters can now present us with. It is an exponential improvement, for one of my generation, over the old ways. The use of blogs by reporters facilitates the expansion of the discussion on many issues, and introduces us to ones we didn't even know were issues yet.

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