I will be discussion leader for a session at BloggerCon that we are tentatively calling “What is Journalism? And What Can Weblogs Do About it?”
If you plan to attend, (see Dave Winer’s invitation) or follow along by webcast, or if you just have an interest in the subject, here are background notes, some distinctions that might usefully be drawn before discussion starts, and an initial list of questions for the group. There will be no lecture, no speeches, no panel. Dave’s philosophy at BloggerCon (and I agree with it) is that the people in the room are the panel. Keep that in mind as you read this. If you show up, you are a participant. It helps to be on the same page as others, and that’s the purpose of this post.
This post is expanded from a comment I posted in response. I don’t usually do that, but given my earlier curt dismissal of the question I felt like I ought to make amends.
The question that comes to my mind is “What tools do traditional journalists have available to them that bloggers do not, and how can bloggers get those tools?”
Phil Wolfe asks, in the comment section of Jay’s thread, “When should the press director replace a camera man, photographer, or a print, TV or radio reporter with a blogger?”
I think that implies one answer: “traditional journalists have access.” Joshua Marshall has access because significant public figures will answer his questions. Kevin Drum had some pretty decent access during the Bush AWOL debate; did he just call Bill Burkett and ask questions? Did Burkett talk to Kevin because of Kevin’s reputation?
How do you decide which blogger gets on the bus? Does the answer to that question scale? If you make your decisions based on the most popular bloggers, doesn’t that just shift the paradigm? I.e., where it was once bloggers vs. Big Media, it might easily become the A-list vs. the B-list (vs. the C-list).
What else do trad journalists have? Lexis/Nexis access helps; I can get that but it costs me money. I think it’s fair to say that the traditional journalist has better access to research tools.