Is blogging 'journalism'?
It can be. For instance, Talking Points Memo (and it's spin-off, TPM Muckraker) is an example of a blog that started out with dedication, professionalism and connections, and built a reputation as a trustworthy source of news and analysis. I also like Juan Cole, Daily Kos and some of the Huffington Post-ers. When I want a laugh I visit Borowitz, Bad Reporter and Defamer. When I'm feeling especially angry at the christo-fascist zombie brigade, Wade Madsen is there to connect the dots.
But if you survey the spectrum of blogs, there is an inescapable conclusion. Like all things, blogging reflects the motives and capabilities of the blogger.
In short, we can conclude that blogging is journalism if that is what the blogger is practicing.
I don't mean credentialism. I believe citizens can be journalists -- if only for the practical reason that we can't all go to journalism school; we can't all be Rachel Maddow. Journalism depends on whether a person asks questions, anticipates questions readers might ask, and doesn't stop questioning until getting the full story. Or as full as can be expected. At a minimum, does the person ask the classic reporter's questions: Who, What, When, Where, and Why, and sometimes, How?
The recent events reported in Mock Journalist, Part III (1/2) are a case in point. Take a moment to catch up on it; be sure to read the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist's post that started it all.
Ready? We'll continue.
1. Kenwood the propagandist's entire post is dedicated to hammering on the point,
Ray Cox Claims there is a PRT Facility in Duluth.. [sic] and There is None...
How about a politician who claiims [sic] there is a quarter-mile demonstration PRT system up in Duluth?
He copies two old statements to establish that Cox has favored Personal Rapid Transit, then part of a Nov. 13, 2007, email from Cox confirming his support continues. Thus, we know Kenmore asked questions directly of the subject, maybe the most important aspect of journalism.
2. Next comes the video with Cox's Dec. 20 statement about there being a PRT facility in Duluth. At this point the propagandist stops being a journalist, because he apparently stops asking questions -- even though the statement about Duluth ought to give rise to a whole other line of such questions (e.g., Huh? There's PRT in Duluth? Since when? Etc., etc.).
3. Instead, what Kenmore does next is give Cox a seat in The Pod Squad, on Dec. 24. That's four whole days in which those additional questions could have been asked.
Then, he writes an anti-Cox letter to the editor ("LTE") of the Northfield News! I won't link to it (since he does), but I will emphasize this sentence from it:
Cox also says there is a 1/4 mile Personal Rapid Transit demonstration project in Duluth. That is not true.
The letter ran Dec. 26, six whole days after the video was taken.
Then came Ovendoor's blog post, datestamped Jan. 1. Happy New Year! Eleven days have now elapsed since the Duluth video.
4. The next day is Jan. 2, and I am now on the story. By 2:00 in the afternoon, Pacific Standard Time, I have asked the obvious followup questions of Cox, and received his answer that he had simply been mistaken about Duluth. It took all of three hours, not days.
What I wrote then still holds up: if Avisnore had asked Cox the obvious followup questions the full story would have come out, turning the video scoop into a non-issue.
Of course, getting a scoop and stirring up an issue, the PRT issue, is Humidor's whole purpose. That is why as soon as he thought he had his 'gotcha' story, he stopped being a journalist, stopped asking questions, and went on the attack online and with the LTE. And he can't even use the old newspaper excuse of being on deadline. There are no deadlines in blogging.
Except in this case, there was a sort of deadline: the Jan. 2 special election for the Minnesota state senate, between Cox and Kevin Dahle. Lumpidor likely needed to get the Duluth-PRT story out ASAP so it could simmer and do (he hoped) the most to help Dahle. Except that we showed that no one cared. Still don't.
The aftermath has brought a defense of Floppidor by Eva Young. I suppose we can refer to her as Mr. Floppy's publisher, since it's her "Lloydletta's Nooz" [sic] and "Dump Bachmann" that host so much of his propaganda. This nugget from Eva is worth thinking about:
Ken's post was accurate. He had no obligation to contact Cox to verify what he said, since it was on tape. Cox said, what he said - and after I listened to the video, and read Avidor's post, I googled for information about the Duluth area PRT test track and could only find a Mark Olson press release promoting it. Source
Oh, but I think there is an obligation, a personal one, on any blogger who aspires to inform a lot of people. At the very minimum, there is an obligation to at least get the full story. And beyond that, to be regarded as trustworthy and responsible. And beyond that, to be worthy of the constitution's protection of the press, should it ever come to that.
Kenthorpe once indicated that he might have aspired to standards of some sort:
One problem overlooked in all the hoopla about citizen journalism... [ellipsis in original] what rights do citizen journalists have? How is working for free, not having your article fact-checked and edited, not being protected from angry readers, not being represented by a union and having no control over your work more desirable than being a paid, professional journalist? Source
Except that he seems to have mistaken those hardships for directives, not challenges.
Of course, at Lloydletta they give you a big whopping signal that they're not reporting news. No, what they're serving up is "Nooz."
When I want "news," I surf over to something like McClatchy.
Good night and good luck, Ken Avidor