Scott Karp on Blogs and Journalism

Check out this interesting posting on the Publishing 2.0 blog by Scott Karp, entitled Can Blogs Do Journalism?

The post gets off to a rocky start:

On the face of it, the question of whether blogs can do journalism is absurd — like asking whether sites published on Vignette can do journalism. A blog, after all, is just a content management system — revolutionary because it made web-native publishing free and easy for anyone — but at the end of the day still just a CMS.

Personally, I think he’s confusing “blogging platform” and “blog.” In my case, the former is Blogger and the latter is the Mark Logic CEO Blog, i.e., this blog and its content. But let’s put that quibble aside because there’s good stuff yet to come.

To me, the more salient questions is whether the blog platform — which, as a web-native CMS, is more powerfully connected the online content ecosystem — will be used by more journalists. And whether more bloggers will start to do what can fairly be considered journalism. Which of course begs the uber-question of what is journalism.

He concludes:

Since many news organizations are too busy focusing on the us vs. them polemic with blogs, it makes sense that someone like Nick Denton would have to step into the vacuum — which traditional news organizations so often create in failing to boldly experiment with new forms, because they appear to threaten the old. […]

Anyone who still thinks that it’s constructive to focus on drawning distinctions between “blogging” and “journalism,” rather than seeing a blog as a platform to evolve the practice of journalism, would be well advised to heed Maggie Shnayerson.

I think it’s simply a question of means and ends. A newspaper is means of delivering a story. So is a weekly news magazine, though a less timely one, which pressures the publisher to deliver value-added analysis.

A blog is a way of delivering a story, too. (And a blogging platform is a way of delivering a blog.) I think Scott’s post is flirting with the question: must one be a journalist to perform journalism? I think the answer’s clearly no. I’d extend Scott’s question to: must one be an analyst to perform analysis? I’d say no again.

I think the question Scott’s directly hitting is: will “real” journalists use blogging?

I think I agree with Scott in thinking the answer remains a reluctant yes. And the reluctant part is what prevents them from using the medium offensively. Journalists (and I’d add, analysts), it appears, will continue to be foot-dragged to new media party.

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