Rettberg Blogging Chapter 4

CHAPTER FOUR - CITIZEN JOURNALISTS?
-Liebling - '60 - freedom of press guaranteed only to those who own one.
-only tiny percentage of population in 20th-century democracies could easily share ideas

-listener/reader contributions in radio, TV, and newspapers in 'carefully boundaried spaces.'
-phone-ins are cut off if too controversial
-letters to editor are not published and have to mesh w/ what's published.
-contend w/ ideology or w/ what advertisers will support or what public would buy.

-mainstream media's domination of airwaves and distribution outlets
-makes underground media invisible to most.

-INET CHANGED ONE OF THE GREATEST OBSTACLES TO TRUE FREEDOM OF PRESS.
-blogs are means of publishing and distributing that is cheap and simple to use.
-journalists and editors reevaluate role of mainstream, professnal media.
-blogs - candidates (elections) have own blogs
-"opinions from knowledgeable or simply opinionated bloggers"
-(and therein is what I believe makes blogging something I will likely never value. Opinions - unsubstantiated opinions - there is such a WALL of bullshit out there that I will not take the time to wade through it. I have had enough of 'opinions' and if there is no validation, no concrete facts offered, then I won't read that blogger a second time - and likely not a first time).

-blogging a threat to journalism??
-most blogs not journalism - writers not trying to be journalists.
-Three ways blogs intersect w/ journalism-
1) first-hand reports from ongoing events
-chance witnesses
-most influential is where blogger is participant in event.
-<ex>- N Orleans citizens during Katrina.
2) blogger(s) set out to tell stories that might well have been told by journalists.
-mainstream media fails to investigate.
-bloggers pool resources and track down details.
-journalists don't have time to do this.
-blogs provide independent journalists w/ 'printing press.'
-<ex>-Allbritton in Iraq as independ journalists and funded by readers.
3) bloggers follow mainstream media & other blogs and filter stories.
-filterbloggers
-gatewatchers - Bruns - 05
-mass media as gatekeepers - bloggers as gatewatchers.

-central tenet of journalism - expectation that journalists are reliable
-tell truth objectively
-BLOGGERS SUBJECTIVE - CRUCIAL DIFF BETWEEN BLOGGING AND JOURNALISM
-some good - no one else controls what's put out there - also bad - so much idiotic b.s. on Inet.

-BLOGGERS PERCEPTION OF SELVES -
-don't think of self as journalist - 65% in 06 agree.
-is sample representative??
-bloggers read and link to other blogs similar to their own.
-perceived lack of women bloggers
-06 - use diff methods and find 46% bloggers are women - 54% are men.
-gender imbalance perceived and not factual.
-THIS IS CUZ MEDIA FOCUSES ON FILTER BLOGS.
-13% of all blogs are filter.
-male bloggers tend link to other male bloggers.
-women simply less visible w/in certain groups of blogs.

-journalism practices -
1. directly quoting sources
2. fact checking
3. posting corrections
4. receiving permission to post copyright material
5. linking to orig source materials out of blog
-Pew researchers - ask bloggers if they do these.
-1/3 'often' try to verify facts & try to link to sources.
-1/5 'sometimes do so.
-other activities less frequent
-SO, 34% think of blogging as form of journalism, but still 60% 'often' or 'sometimes' verify facts and reference sources.
-37% bloggers say main topic is their life/personal experiences.
-only 5% bloggers focus on typically journalistic topics of news/current events.

-no degree or license to be journalist
-are journalist if work as one.
-used to be if worked in radio, newspaper, or TV
-today, may also mean bloggers.
-can be very important legally/pragmatically
-blogging now recognized as import part of media ecology
-bloggers more likely to get passes to press conferences and political conventions.
-journalists - right to portect sources' anonymity.

-04 - bloggers right to protect sources tested.
-published info re: Apple products to release.
-Apple sues 'John Doe' - unknown people Apple assumed leaked trade secrets to bloggers.
-Apple says bloggers legally required to identify sources
-bloggers said sources protected cuz they were acting as journalists.
-Apple argues opposite.
-Electronic Frontier Foundation - backed up bloggers and won court case.
-EFF - 'battling for legal and institutional recognition that if you engage in journalism, you're a journalist w/ all rights, priveleges, and protections.'

-Free Flow of Information Bill - intended to protect free speech by permitting journalists to protect sources.
-later draft - not tied to specific medium
-journalist - person, who for financial gain…info intended for dissemination to public.

-legal def's show that blogging and other user-created media causing us to redefine nature of journalism.

-journalism - objective and reliable.
-blogging subjective and independent and no guarantee of truth.
-Lovink - 07 - 'truth has become amateur project, not an absolute value.

-but people see blogs as more credible than mainstream media.
-61.4% say blogs more honesty.
-50.3% say 'transparent biases' of blogs is important factor
-bloggers have ways of building trust and credibility
-techniques not same as mainstream media.

-mainstream media - establish pattern of routines to create sense of dependability
-bloggers rely on own distance from power for credibility.
-credibility established by diff characteristics than traditional ones.
-the more personal and more open about opinions a site is, more trustworthy and credible it will be.

-blogs - personal authenticity
-journalism - institutional crecibility.
-we trust/distrust article in paper based on perception of the newspaper.
-reputation of medial outlet is important.
-bloggers build trust individually.
-some strategies same - blog w/ professional looking design seen more credible than one tacky and gaudy.
-exceptions - <ex>- Salam Pax's blog

-we trust/distrust bloggers on basis of our perception of their honesty.
-fakes tend to be found out in the blogosphere
-hefty negative backlashes.
-authenticity doesn't necessarily require complete self-exposure.
-pseudonyms.
-<ex>- Salam Pax - during US invasion of Iraq - really Iraqui living in Baghdad, or propaganda by Hussein's government
-<ex>- vids of crying children and anxious moms posted to YouTube by teens in Beirut as Israel dropped bombs on their city.
-primary function of blogs and vids is not to be factual report or confirmation of what's happening.
-meant to be highly subjective, emotional reports on events we already know are happening.
-we already knew events and what Pax and teens posted, we could have imagined for ourselves, but we wanna read it/see it or see from people actually experiencing them.
-truth of blogs, in this sense, may have more in common with truth of novels, art and poetry than w/ facts presented by journalism.
-does this make them 'entertainment' or 'art??' -in either case, I would not look for this type of thing, nor would I value it as entertainment OR art. It's like people driving by a car accident and gawking.

-classic journalism - Wall - 05 - closely tied to medernity
-values anchoring modernity seen in journalism:
-sense that reality could be observed.
-sense that reality could then be documented.
-these done w/ objective viewpoint.
-emphasis on constant change and timeliness(?)
-belief in being able to represent reality accurately.
-profession of journalism & our idea of 'news' - developed recently - 19th century.
-commodity to be sold and resold.
-20th century - 'in order to reach largest audiences, news presented as mere reflection of reality.
-detached & neutral report, usually w/ counter point.
-offend fewest people possible.
-reduced to 2 binary points of view - alternative perspectives often disappear.

-post-modern characteristics - as opposed to journalism's modernity.
-war blogs - as per Wall
-1. personalization
-2. audience participation in content creation
-3. story forms that are fragmented
-4. story forms interdependent w/ other Web sites.
-now, journalists increasingly present selves as participants in events instead assuming they can stay 'outside.'
-exceptions are politics, war, crime.

-I. Blog - First-hand reports.
-03 - start of Iraqi war - Salam Pax writes of daily life in Baghdad
-hear directly from person involved in horrible conflict and is stronger experience than reading excellent article by professional.
-Lieutenant Smash - Citizen Smash - Mr. Smash - soldier - sparser posts.
-both <ex>'s are diary style.
-day-to-day basis and share thots on immediate situation.
-political importance cuz significant global events thrust into.
-very important documents in our understanding of wars - personal diaries written during war.
-in past, wasn't read until after conflict.
-now, can read immediately.
-no large-scale and immediate publication channels during previous wars like today.
-Salam Pax recruited by Guardian to be columnist - blog published in book form.
-blog simply means for him to be discovered and recruited into mainstream media??
-but immediacy gained followers who worried about him.

-Citizen Smash - shift from early posts - first, wrote as civilian thrust into life of soldier.
-became replication of official doctrine of US government and standarized portrayal of war in movies.
-Memorial Day - didn't wanna attend official service.
-by 4th of July, wrote very traditionally patriotic message.

-First-hand reports - Chance Witnesses -
-blogger mostly writes to close friends/family - suddenly thrust into limelight cuz is witnessed and blogged about current event.
-<ex>-Virginia Tech shooting -
-statistically, students most likely to blog.
-lotsa students on campus blogged about it
-ntcoolfool - posted fast/often - words are moving cuz immediate.
-journalist presumed to be outside action.
-ntcoolfool wasn't present - was one step removed - emotions intense.

-BLOGS & MAINSTREAM MEDIA SYMBIOTIC - blogs link to mainstream most frequent
-mainstream frequently turns to blogs.
-<ex>-Virginia Tech shootings - reporters leave comments on blog asking to call.
-during shootings, FBook lots more local communication than blog.
-journalists need be very aware of ethical issues when approach blogger in crisis.
-bloggers and readers quick to see journalists as exploitative.
-regular readers seen as supportive.
-bloggers need be aware what publish LOTS more widespread than had imagined.
-participants, so no attempt to be objective
-strength not in doing journalist stuff of verifying, etc.
-strenth in authenticity -
-diff authenticity than 'this is true' like journalists - is evidenced by immediacy.

-II. Bloggers as independent journalists/opinionists.
-second way blogs approach journalism - deliberately set out to tell journalist-like stories.
-Allbritton - '03 - Iraq -
-independent journalist in Iraq is appealing cuz mainstream media has 'embedded' journalists in US army.
-public doesn't see their stories as unbiased.
-SO, Allbritton raises $15k and goes - lasted few weeks.

-11% bloggers write about politics.
-most lik to and comment on info published in mainstream or on politicians' websites.
-focus on being watchdogs.
-posts are opinion pieces (blech) or contributions to debate.
-04 - US Democratic Convention - big breakthru cuz 3-dozen bloggers get press passes.

-III. Gatewatching -
-3rd way blogging intersects w/ journalism.
-gatewatching - plays on idea of 'gatekeeping.'
-gatekeeping - regime of control over what content allowed in print and broadcast media.
-controllers - journalists, editors, owners
-3 diff gates - keeps traditional journalism closed process.
1. input phase - news gathered, but only by staff journalists.
2. output phase - news is published.
-closed editorial hierarchy restricts what's published.
3. response phase - readers comment.
-editorial selection of what responses allowed public.
-closed system collapsing w/ participatory media.
-gatewatching - Bruns - 07.
-observation of the output gates of news publications, etc, to identify important info as becomes available.
-happens in open news sites and collaborative blogs.
-<ex>-Digg.com
-blogs often do this gatewatching cuz of linking to sources.
-'outwardly directed referencing'
-also link to other blogs writing about news stories.
-<ex>-Slashdot - more complex than basic blog
-very largescale community site.
-front page stories are a few links and few lines commentary.
-discussings can be 1000's of entries.
-'karma points' - users assigned moderation duties on certain days.
-each day has set number karma points to assign.
-comments rated and given points.
-Slashdot filters news for users - technology/programming - and social implications of it.
-high range of comments - very insightful to infantile.
-"flamebait"- comments meant to stir up fight.
-comments listed in order of points assigned - flamebaits are given -1, so most never see them.

-blog indexes - <ex>-Technorati - automatically filter millions of blogs.
-SO, is gatewatcher activity.
-performs a forme of automated large-scale gatewatching.

-role blogs serve in filtering news.
-most interesting is when blogs are watchdogs of media.
-find errors or omissions in reporting.
-feedback loop between blogs and media established.
-like this - bloggers use existing stories to break new news (like the errors they find) and these are reported by media.
-<ex>-Rathergate - 04 - Dan Rather - documents about GW Bush when in military.
-documents from 70's and confirmed authentic.
-but bloggers see that font of documents from AFTER 70's.
-this feeds back to mainstream media and Rather demoted.
-interaction between traditional and unruly.
-this all possible cuz ordinary citizens today have unprecedented ability to do involved research.
-also, bloggers have access to community - cuz online.
-makes possible to communicate fast and have many minds thinking together.

-Symbiosis - literature on blogs states how blogs empower ordinary citizens.
-anybody can be the media.
-HOWEVER…blogs and social media serve purposes of mainstream media.
-<ex>-Virginia Tech shooting.
-some newspapers offer free blog hosting.
-then ask readers to share photos, vids and reports of newsworthy events.
-lotsa journalists keep own blog - <ex>-Lasica - sets out raw material of stories and gets comments from readers.

-blogs serve media cuz blogs test - allow you to see whether audience still awake and receptive.
-outsourced, privatized test beds for media.
-inverts the common 'utopian' argument that blogs empower readers and viewers by allowing people to create media & not just consume.
-SO, blogs servants of mainstream media.
-cuz provide more nuanced form of audience survey at no cost to media.

-blog space gives amateurs way to enter debate - amateur = Olympic athlete vs. pro athlete.

-BOTTOM LINE: - BLOGS NEED MAINSTREAM MEDIA.
- TODAY, MAINSTREAM MEDIA NEEDS BLOGS.