Blogging by choice, not by necessity

One of my favorite things to do on the internet is to read blogs. It’s fairly common, and judging by the fact that a fat man calling himself Perez Hilton can become one of the most popular bloggers on the planet, anyone with a computer can do it.

The emergence of blogs has led to many wonderful sites that go beyond being just another recap of one’s life. Sites often dedicate themselves to a certain subject like sports, technology, celebrity gossip or really any topic that the writer holds even a remote interest in. The good ones usually gather a fairly large following and the site takes off.

Some blogs have done things that no newspaper would ever cover (popular site boingboing.net is described as “a directory of wonderful things”); some others have begun covering news topics.

This has some of the people within the “old” media afraid. They make criticisms like how bloggers are completely anonymous in their reporting, they aren’t accountable to what they say and they don’t have reliable sources or the same credibility that older journalists have built. Bloggers often make posts and then don’t even proof read them afterwards. The shame.

While that’s all well and good, it’s a flawed attack.

Many of these journalists assume that these bloggers want to be newspaper people, but just don’t have the “stuff” necessary to make it a daily paper or a magazine. I think it’s obvious that many bloggers chose the medium for a reason, and it’s not just because they felt vindictive about not getting that spot in a newsroom. The blog can offer a different, valuable take on the news item.

One of the advantages bloggers hold over newsrooms is that they can provide lighting-quick reactions to everything at once. While daily newspapers may get a more complete picture, people want information quickly and aren’t always looking to get every last detail.

You know that the Internet has almost everything people want when you see multiple sites live-blogging the State of the Union address.

They may not get the scoop or break the news as numerous reporters do with the reliable and credible sources, but I don’t think it’s a hindrance on what many are trying to do.

Some sites even boast about having none of these contacts, saying that it gives them free reign to say whatever they have to say without worrying about damaging a nonexistent relationship with a person within an organization.

This brings up the issue of accountability. It’s true that most of the bloggers aren’t accountable to some outside source or an editor or something like that. But they still must be accountable to the reader. If they aren’t, people will go elsewhere for their information.

Furthermore, most bloggers have the luxury of catering to the readers that they have. They usually open a huge comments section that thrives with different opinions and allows readers to interact with the writer. They can tell what their fans are like and respond accordingly.

An example of this is the popular sports blog, deadspin.com. After hearing about the Michael Vick (a.k.a. Ron Mexico) incident all over the internet but not on big sports news outlets like ESPN and Sports Illustrated, creator Will Leitch saw a disconnect between the fans and sports journalists.

People wanted to hear about the story, but it wasn’t coming out of any of the usual places. Fans were often getting what these huge media hubs told them they wanted rather than what they actually wanted.

I would most certainly find a $130 million dollar man begging a woman not to tell anyone about his herpes but offering no monetary compensation in exchange to be a fascinating read. Apparently, many journalists did not.

Many of the old traditional news outlets are recognizing this and starting their own blogs. The New York Times has too many blogs to count, the Washington Post puts some of its best journalists online and the AJC has regular contributors. It’s a telling trend that doesn’t look to reverse anytime soon.

Of course, most will accuse me of biting the hand that feeds me by publishing this in a newspaper. It is ironic , but in another way, it’s also showing that the two are integral for each other. I recognize the limits of this forum and also the advantages and know that both blogs and newspapers will continue to exist far into the future.

Still, it’s interesting to hear some assuming a superiority complex when referring to blogs, thinking that it’s just more internet drivel. While I can’t defend sites that draw bodily excrements on peoples’ faces in Paint and openly question a celebrity’s sexuality, I can say that blogs are worth something.