Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Low-Carb, Low-Freedom Diet for Citizen Journalists (Bloggers)

The Latest Rumbling in the Blogosphere: Questions About Ethics: "As blogs grow in readers and influence, bloggers should realize that if they want to reform the American media, that is going to have to include reforming themselves."

Ethics for bloggers? Why?

Adam Cohen's Op-Ed piece for the New York Times brings to light (again) a lot of issues journalists have been saying about bloggers since their significant emergence onto the media scene during the 2004 Presidential elections - bloggers are misleading their audiences and need some ethics guidelines. Maybe the "professional journalist" feels these guidelines are necessary, but those of us journalists on the up; those of us that have been raised on the benefits and distractions of the internet know that these proposed guidelines would violate everything the internet, now, stands for - free speech.

Now, I'm no card-carrying, ACLU member, but in regards to the internet, I definately think less government interference is better, especially where blogs are concerned because they are becoming a new cornerstone for the "marketplace of ideas" concept that journalism is founded upon. Not since the advent of American journalism during the pre-Revolutionary war period has there been such a medium as the Internet that allowed Joe Public such a loud voice.

Granted, the American public buys into a lot of things it shouldn't - reality TV being my most despised example - but, the American public is not stupid. Yes, they are suckers for advertising and niche-marketing strategies, but that's because we've become so efficient at such targeting such audiences that we're actually doing the public a favor. If Democrats didn't want to hear a liberally-biased news report they wouldn't be turning into CNN every morning while drinking their cup of coffee. Everything, even news, is becoming niche-based. As a journalist, this is discouraging (especially considering I've just dropped $25K on a journalism degree from a program that stresses the importance of objectivity), but it's the way of the beast: to make money in news or any entertainment industry, you have to satisfy the advertisers and they want to target a specific audience.

Got off on a tanget there...anyway, the American public may be easily distracted, but they are not stupid. They know what they want. If an individual is a liberal, then that person is more likely to log onto Daily Kos rather than Instapundit. The important factor is they don't care if Daily Kos is being sponsored by the DNC. They like their news slanted to the left.

Everything can be distorted. Stats and facts included. One side can pull strengths from a survey and the other can pull an oposing strength from the same information. If an issue really matters to an individual or to an entire society, people will do further research. That current human instinct is one they share with journalists, but only journalists are required to find supporting and opposing viewpoints. Journalists do it because the public expects them to do it. Journalists have trained the American public to think in the same manner.

In closing, Americans are proud. Very few readers of the New York Times see a bias in the paper because it's their local paper. That's where they get all their local news. The same goes for small towns as well. I think the role of the internet is to make available all-possible biases public. The role of the newspaper is be objective. That's what the general public expects. If we make blogs stick to ethical standards then we violate the freedom the Internet has to offer.

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