Wednesday, January 16, 2002

On blogging

There's been a lot of dicussion about the future of blogging (or "independent journalism"), and what its role in the future will be. I figured I'd put my $0.02 in.

Thre will always be a need for large news organizations. This is pretty obvious. No matter how many hits Glenn Reynolds gets, or how many people leave a few bucks in his virtual tip jar, it's never going to be enough to fund a trip over to Afghanistan to report on the progress in the war. Like it or not, Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, and others feed off the actual journalism done by the news organizations. Without this "news", there'd be nothing for them to comment on.

Well, then what's wrong with Scott Adams's "everyone's a reporter" approach, as an InstaPundit reader suggests? Well, if this were the case, we'd have gotten all our news about the war in Afghanistan from al Jazzerra, and I don't think anybody here would be happy with that.

Yes, some bloggers like Josh Marshall sprinkle some original reporting in with the commentary. But Marshall can do this because he's gained contacts in his years of working for the larger news organizations, and continues to do so. It's not purely a product of Talking Points.

What Reynolds and others have shown, though, is that there's no reason the major news organizations have to be the sole source of news commentary. Just because someone was once a great reporter does not mean she will be an engaging commentator. The skills required for interesting commentary are writing ability, critical thinking, knowledge about history and current affairs, and passion. Yes, reporters should have these skills, but they're not the only ones. The blogger's "take-downs" of established pundits during the war have shown that oftenitmes we amateurs. have more of these skills than the professionals. Does it really take unique talent to write to George Bush in the voice of Jesus as Stephanie Salter did?

So, the bloggers and others are breaking the monopoly on News Commentary, and this is A Good Thing, IMHO. But it's important to remember that all this commentary comes from the news, and someone still needs to go report it, and you aren't going to be able to do that on PayPal contributions.
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