Convergence of Blogs and Mainstream Media

Mickey Kaus, reflecting on Katie Couric’s apparently ghostwritten and re-edited blog, sees a larger lesson:

Maybe this post-Imus arrangement is inherent in the technology of the Web. 1) The Web lets individuals express themselves to the world in a way that’s very difficult to suppress. But 2) the Web also makes it much easier to organize campaigns to pressure those media institutions–i.e. CBS and NBC–that can be pressured via their advertisers. Therefore, as the Web takes hold, individual blogs become freer and wilder while big, advertiser-supported MSM outlets head in the opposite direction, becoming even more controlled and anodyne. Just a theory. Maybe even a numbingly obvious theory. But for a while there it looked as if the MSM was going to get more loosey-goosey like everyone else.

Bryan Murley noted some time back that, as popular blogs start making significant money from advertising, they would take on many of the characteristics of the mainstream press that we have long criticized. There’s some truth in that. Certainly, monetizing traffic increases the already strong ego-driven incentives to write about things that will appeal to a larger audience and, more significantly, to chase that brought in by search engines. It also further incentivizes getting something up fast rather than taking the time to do research and reflect on the topic.

At the same time, though, there has been a lot of pressure on the mainstream press to become more like blogs and, especially, to either create their own blogs or buy up existing ones. The problem, though, is that blogging ethics are very different than those of traditional journalism. Having posts vetted by an editor before they go live and changing post content after publication without disclosure of that fact are simply anathema to traditional bloggers.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Anderson says:

    Thank god for ghostwriters! The viral stupidity of a blog written by Katie Couric herself, might well bring the entire internet to an untimely end.

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    Yes we must give thanks to James for running such a free and open forum, I think that I have only had my posts altered or removed twice, witch was probably a good thing cause I lose me mind some times and type something regretful in anger, but to tell you the truth I have been censored on almost every other site I have tried to blog on, so once it happens I don’t go back, so thanks again James for giving me a voice for my off the wall and out of the mainstream way of looking at things.

  3. Bithead says:

    At the same time, though, there has been a lot of pressure on the mainstream press to become more like blogs and, especially, to either create their own blogs or buy up existing ones. The problem, though, is that blogging ethics are very different than those of traditional journalism.

    And I would suggest that one major reason for the success of blogs is exactly that different ethic standard.