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Online Journalism

reflections on a changing medium

Tag Archives: citizen journalism

In “Case Studies: Blogs and Journalism,” Chapter 9 of Axel Brun’s Gatewatching, the question of whether or not blogging is “journalism” is discussed. After reading the entire chapter and considering my own experiences with blogging, reading blogs and reading aggregated blog news sites I have formed my own opinions about this issue. I believe that blogging is journalism, but like many others, I feel that blogging is very different from traditional “journalism.” Blogging is more of a form of grassroots citizen journalism. Now, with the wide availability of simple computers and high-speed Internet service, almost everyone has access to the tools necessary to digitally record and publish information for the world to see. Of course the digital divide does keep some underprivileged and working class Americans and others in different areas of the world in the dark, without a platform to express and share their ideas and opinions, but in America this is becoming less and less of an issue.

Now, with blogs and blog aggregation sites it is easier to find news about a specific topic from a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Also, the news that is being disseminated today is of a wider subject variety as the public agenda is no longer being set by an exclusive class of professional journalists. Rather, grassroots journalists and ordinary people are harnessing more informational power and setting the public agenda themselves.

While large, professional news outlets are still revered by many as accurate and trustworthy sources of news, blogs and blog sites such as The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report are gaining readership and notoriety in the world of news media.


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Social networking sites are everywhere. Almost everyone I know has either a Twitter, a Facebook, a LinkedIn, or a Myspace. Some people have one of each! Not until recently, though, have these tools become widely used by businesses and news outlets. I never really thought much of having profiles on these sites. I just saw it as a fun activity that I took part in in order to connect with my friends, especially the ones who now live across the country. Now employers at media organizations are frequently asking job candidates about their social Web media skills.

“‘In the old days, most journalists thought it was their job to write a story, and it was someone else’s job to distribute it, market it and find an audience for it,’ says Alan Murray, executive editor, online for the Wall Street Journal. “In the new world, the journalist has a responsibility for the whole set.”

Here, Alan Murray, an online editor for the Wall Street Journal is talking about the changing role of journalists and the blurring of lines between the roles of reporters, photographers, videographers, Web designers, marketing and advertising. This could be a positive thing as the journalist who produced the story, gathering information firsthand and interacting with subjects, would also be producing and displaying the rest of the media package that their written work might be part of. This could lead to more cohesive media packages and less of a disconnect between the creative ideas of individuals working on different parts of the project.

On the other hand, though, there’s a reason why, historically, journalists have been separated from marketing and advertising sections of news outlets physically and otherwise. If the journalist is made responsible for these tasks that hold economic consequences, as well as gathering and reporting information, it is possible that the stories that are being reported upon could be influenced by advertisers or those whom the news outlet has a stake in pleasing for the sake of profits.

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This is a combined response to Sides of the Wire: America in Afghanistan, The Long Haul, and How I cover the Afghanistan war with the 5DmkII.

These three stories, taken together, show the increasing availability of war photos from overseas, particularly in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. It is easy to find these photos in print and broadcast media, on the internet and, increasingly, through the blogs and Web sites of independent journalists and journalists from smaller news outlets. With such coverage, it’s becoming harder to ignore the reality of the situations–and that’s a positive thing, in my opinion. Making such media available can serve as a strong form of activism, forcing American citizens to be aware of our conuty’s foreign affairs. These photos give a human face to war. It can also be extremely historically significant. These images are reminiscent of photos and documentary work exposing the horrors of the Vietnam War (BBC, Hearts and Minds).

The lengths that journalist Danfung Dennis goes to in order to capture images, sound and video are extraordinary. He mentions 120 degree heat, lack of light, issues with stabilization, the need to wear safety equipment and other various circumstantial and environmental forces that he must overcome. His story also highlights the improvements in portable camera equipment and the ways in which they enable things like war overseas to be covered by journalists in new and efficient ways. Newer versions of compact DSLRs are more impressive than ever, enabling journalists to make multiple media projects (like Dennis’s photo sets and documentary footage) and to stray further from the confining roles of a traditional journalists and photographers.

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