I was on a panel with two journalist recently. One led a progressive online outlet, the other worked for a traditional print publication with a growing online component.
We talked to a group about the obvious struggles that traditional media continue to have with the online medium.
Monetization issues aside, the journalist with the traditional paper brought up another issue that seems to be prevelant among traditional media. He said that his publication gives its staff the ability to blog for the paper on its Web site but that when he does, he feels conflicted. He’s concerned about blogging in a way that might cloud his writing for the print edition.
His main concern is that he wouldn’t want the opinions he expresses on his paper’s blog to somehow undermine the objectivity and balance that built his traditional journalistic background.
This conflict highlights an important pressure point in the ongoing struggle of traditional media and the online medium – fairness and balance are not exclusive of opinion and perspective.
The reason blogs are successful isn’t because they adhere to the conventions of journalistic integrity. Blogs are raw (although less so). Blogs incite emotion.
It’s that emotional response people have with blogs that keep readers coming back, responding in comments, and why blogs are so disruptive to traditional media who will continue to wrestle with that format.
Personally, I don’t expect the blogs I read to be balanced. That’s why I go to blogs – for an opinion. I like having something to react to and challenge my thinking. Do I expect that opinion expressed on the blogs I read to be educated based on the collective insight gained by looking at all of the opinions – definitely.
Back to my traditional journalist’s conundrum. I told him I thought he would better servce his readers by blogging more and expressing his point of view on topics in a way that will lead the reader to greater meaning that they may not have been able to find otherwise.
Becuse exposure to new thinking, new people and new ideas is where the real value of the Interent resides.