Tonight (7:15 CET) i will be on svt (the local news) about whether or not i think blogs are a democratic form of media, and more specifically what i think about the Danielsson case. i am not sure if i will just talk, or answer questions but after reading the first blog post and from what i previously believe about blogging vs. journalism this is the jist of what i would like to say:
- Blogging is NOT journalism (all bloggers sigh once again, the old debate is back)
Blogging and journalism play by different rules. While they do have some things in common, they also have different goals and guidelines. Yes, they both publish. And yes, they both potentially reach thousands, even millions of people. However, journalists have an ethical obligation to give an unbiased version of events. Blogs, on the other hand, are anything but unbiased. Blogs are written by people who have a *strong* interest in what they are writing about. A bloggers passion about his or her topic is what keeps him blogging year after year. The blogger becomes a self-proclaimed expert in his chosen topic. And while bloggers do not need to worry about being objective, they also do not receive the same benefits of the journalist. For example, in the Danielsson case, Ingerö alludes to varies sources for the rumor he writes. Under Swedish law, if he were a journalist, he would be able to keep the identity of those sources private. If he were to be sued for deformation of character as a blogger, however, I believe that he would have to reveal those sources. Blogging is not journalism it is publishing with a purpose.
- Blogging ethics and identity
When you blog, you build a reputation, an online identity over time. No one is going to read your first post and say, hey, this girl really knows her stuff! i am going to read everything she ever writes and believe every word. And while the latter is a bit of an exaggeration, I think the thought behind it is more common in journalism. If I am reading something I have found in the Guardian, I am much more likely to believe it – even if it is my first time reading the author. If I read Joe Smileys guide to sociolinguistics – a new and wonderful (fictional) blog, I will read it critically for a while before I make up my mind. Once a blogger has built that reputation, to keep it, he or she must be accountable for the things written in the blog. You cant go yell the sky is falling with out a piece of it in your hand. If you do, be prepared to face the consequences – be those from the media, the blogowhorl, or the laws of your country. You are publishing, you are accountable.
- Reading critically is key
Blogging is called push button publishing, publishing for the people , and all matters of look everyone can do it phrases. The key thing to remember is that *everyone* can do it. Yep, anyone with an Internet connection, and something to say can have their own blog in a matter of minutes. Just because google has cached something and spit it back out in your search results does. not. make. it. fact. You have to be a critical reader! Check your sources, find out where the information is coming from. Dont believe everything in print not when everyone can be Gutenberg.
- Blogging echos
Bloggers form little (sometimes big) networks. And like any good social network, we talk among ourselves, give each other support, spread bits of news, and enjoy each others company. Blogging, unlike journalism, has a very social side. We network and news echos between us. That news can be taken outside the network by periphery members and spread to other networks, only to echo again. This is how news spreads – because blogs network. (Consequently, journalism has created ways to network news using international new networks such as AP).
Do I believe what Ingerö said about Danielsson was right? For me, it is irrelevant. I dont care whether he was or was not having an affair. What I am more concerned with the free speech versus accountability debate. I am concerned that bloggers continue to fill in the gaps left by traditional media (this is NOT a slight on traditional mediaas I have stated before, traditional media and blogs have *different* objectives). Bloggers can and should have a voice. Big money and big media should not be the only voice of the public. Blogs are the online public (third) space where we can discuss, protest, meet and enlighten. This space is necessary for free speech. We do, however, need to consider what we say. We are accountable for our thoughts and actions, just as we are in the public spaces our physical bodies inhabit.