Blogs, Scooter Libby and the Changing Face of Media

Will the rise of blogging and "citizen journalism"* have a positive effect on news coverage of politics? I'd have to say yes. Kate Werk at Small Dead Animals posted the other day on a different reason this will be so:

The distinction between national and local is an important one. [...] I find the local reporting by mainstream affiliates in my part of the country to be, by and large, reasonably thorough and not nearly as tainted by the political "default setting" that infects much of national and international coverage. [...]

Indeed, one wonders how different our perceptions of the national mainstream media might be if the chattering quasi -experts, political mouthpieces and overpaid anchors were sent into early retirement, and replaced with editing teams that simply compiled reports submitted by local affiliates and journalists in the field.

Removing the conclusion-drawing, forecasting and speculation that currently infects hard news could go a long way towards restoring the credibility of a troubled industry and the confidence of that "former audience" - those news consumers who have turned to the internet, not for its speed, but for the sources - to fact check, cross-check and provide context.

The emergence of blogging as a source of national news can bring out information that the elitist, liberal press can't or won't report. Such will likely be the case with the recently begun trial of Scooter Libby for the whole Valerie Wilson kerfuffle. For the first time, bloggers (including me at Dean's World) will be covering the events right alongside the same national press which distorted the facts of the Wilson "leak" beyond all reality when left to its own devices.

Kate's argument is also correct in terms of demographics. Here in the U.S., the local media in surveys have repeatedly been shown to be more politically diverse than their national counterparts. The blogosphere is even more diverse {Links, anyone?}

As things currently stand, political blogging is highly opinionated, yet once it becomes commonplace within the news media market, it's highly likely the news consumer will want independent blogging that is less personal and opinion-oriented. When that happens, the market will jump in and satisfy that need. Once that happens, I expect the last objective of old-fashioned journalism to blogging will have been obviated.

I look forward to being a part of that in the near future at the Scooter Libby trial. You can read my coverage and that of all credentialed bloggers at ScooterLibbyTrial.com.

* The term "citizen journalism" has always bugged me since it implies that professional journalists are somehow not citizens and that it denigrates the work of many bloggers who have more expertise in their subject matter than the journalists who cover it.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013