Blogs change my expectations of news

Blogs change my expectations of news
I’ve been reading the news online today as I have for a long time. My RSS aggregator brings me AP and Reuters technology and Internet news, and Google sends me items of interest as well. But I find myself reading stories and coming away empty these days. Blogs have spoiled me, and I think the whole news industry needs to understand why.

It’s the links, the contextual references. News bloggers tend to automatically provide them in their writing, not only links to the source of their commentary, but also to a host of other supportive material. In this sense, bloggers provide context and argument to support their words. I find this beyond edifying, like water to a thirsty man. This posting by Dan Gillmor is a case in point. Whether you agree with him or not is irrelevant. At least he’s providing a host of material to support what he’s arguing about. The Internet makes this possible, and it’s what I find so compelling about bloggers as journalists. Is it more work? Of course, but is that really the point? Time after time I read conventional news stories online and come away disappointed. You can pick almost any example, and if you read it with bloggee (one who reads blogs?) eyes, you’ll find yourself longing for a link that supports this reference or that. In days when press credibility is at an all time low, you’d think journalists would welcome the chance to support their perspective.

Or not.

Links have been with us since the beginning of the Web, and I’m not only talking about those that promote references within the writer’s own work. Nor am I referring to the body of work by academics, wherein every other word is a link. I just like the idea of arguments being supported. The problem here is that many journalists — blinded by the artifical hegemony known as “objectivity” — don’t realize they’re presenting perspective. For example, in an article yesterday about the music downloading story, a Reuters writer said, “Just last month, a federal appellate court handed a surprise setback to the U.S. recording industry…” The word “surprise” is the writer’s viewpoint being expressed. I don’t mind it, but I sure do wish there was some sort of support for that belief. This is what I call the lack of argument in journalism today. Had a blogger written that, there’s a better likelihood that it would’ve been supported. ‘Nuff said.

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