November 28, 2004

THIS STORY from the Baltimore Sun on the future of the news business post-Rather is worth reading in its entirety. Here’s a bit:

For Socolow, the rise of bloggers is the most exciting change in electronic journalism these days. And, he says, far from upending journalistic traditions, bloggers derive their greatest strength from a mainstay of the profession.

“For all the bad things that bloggers put out there [during the election], they have one really significant advantage over the dinosaur networks, which is their relationship to accuracy,” Socolow said. “The bloggers’ power is in their ability to fact-check mainstream journalism in a new way.”

The fallout from Rather’s Bush report is proof of that power: It was bloggers – not television or print journalists – who first questioned the authenticity of the documents on which 60 Minutes II based the segment.

“What’s more basic to journalism than fact-checking and accuracy?” Socolow says. “That’s what bloggers are providing, as the Bush-Rather story illustrates. CBS News – or The New York Times for that matter – never had to worry about its journalism being independently evaluated the way it is today on the Internet.”

That’s not as dramatic a story line as the end of network news. But another layer of checks and balances – even if ideologically driven – seems like a good thing for the public.

Yes. And if I were running a Big Media outlet I’d pay someone to surf the blogs (or check links to my own stories from blogs via technorati) and then make corrections when they found errors. It’s free, outsourced error-correction.

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