Yahoo’s news includes blogs

Yahoo’s news search now includes blogs and that is good news.

Eric Auchard of Reuters called me about it last night and probed the question of separating blogs from … what should we call ?… real news, professional news, journalism?

I got on my high horse, predictably, and said the separation is artificial and even perilous (see the post directly below)

Robert Thompson, a media studies professor at Syracuse University, said it was important to preserve the distinctions between professional journalism and personal commentary.

He defined professional journalism as reporting which adheres to standards of accuracy and writing subjected to an editorial process, and all done with an eye to journalistic ethics, although he said journalism often falls short of these goals.

“There is a distinction between something that has gone through an editorial process as opposed to something put up by someone that has been through none of those processes,” Thompson said.

But media critic Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog Buzzmachine (http://buzzmachine.com), said major Internet sites such as Yahoo and Google continue to patronise bloggers by treating them as secondary sources of news.

I was complaining that GoogleNews will not includ a site unless it has multiple authors… as if that makes a difference. Google to I.F. Stone: Drop dead.

Jarvis, who is a former TV critic for TV Guide and People magazines, mocked the notion that journalists live by a shared set of professional standards, that they are better trained or more trustworthy than the anyone-can-join blog movement.

“What made the voice of the people somehow less important than the paid professional journalist?” he asked. “You don’t need to have a degree, you don’t need to have a paycheque, you don’t need to have a byline,” Jarvis said.

“If you inform the public, you are committing an act of journalism,” he declared.

I went to Yahoo’s news search and looked up “Meirs.”

In the left column, under “news,” I found this: commentary from a student paper in Tennessee. In the right column, under “blog beta,” I found this: analysis from law professors. Which is more valuable, more authoritative, more trustworthy? The only way to find out is to read them.

Bottom line: I am delighted that Yahoo now includes blogs in search; I’m not complaining. Good on Yahoo. Take a lesson, Google. But to Thompson and others who keep arguing that there is a clear distinction, I say: Show me the line.

: Winer says:

1. Blogs don’t belong in the margin, they belong in the main results. There’s so much confusion about what is and isn’t a blog, why bother even trying to make a distinction. BusinessWeek has a blog, but it’s not the same thing as Scripting News, right? Or is it? Where should BW’s blog be? Why should it be in a different place from their editorial stuff? Don’t expect the line to get more solid in the future, it’s going the other way, getting more blurry all the time.

: Lisa DiCarlo at Forbes.com asks:

But is Yahoo! taking another big step in the blurring of lines between professional media and grassroots journalism?

The line is already blurrier than you know….

  • Michael

    “show me the line:

    I think he did:

    He defined professional journalism as reporting which adheres to standards of accuracy and writing subjected to an editorial process, and all done with an eye to journalistic ethics, although he said journalism often falls short of these goals.
    “There is a distinction between something that has gone through an editorial process as opposed to something put up by someone that has been through none of those processes,” Thompson said.

    Presumably if the content of a blog fits these conditions, then he’d say it is “professional journalism.” If not, then its just someone posting something on the web.

  • http://tk.com anon

    But did you really say “paycheque”? (Would that be Johnny Paycheque?)

  • Tim Windsor

    Interesting how the Yahoo search worked, even though you misspelled Harriet Miers’ name in the search.

    We may not need an “editorial process,” but copy editors are still handy!

    :-)

  • http://blog.detectivemarketing.com Stefan Engeseth

    This is good news. Today it feels like the community of blogs are to invisible for new persons like my self how is trying to find things. I would love to use yahoo to find where blog that could spread new ideas like this:

    Will Linux make computers soon?
    http://blog.detectivemarketing.com/2005/10/will-linux-make-computers-soon.html

    Is there any place for that? If would be great.

  • http://robertdfeinman.com/society Robert Feinman

    I think what has happened in photography may be an indicator.

    There are professional photographers who earn a living from their skills. Some are news photographers who go out on assignment. In addition there are many part time photographers. Some of these act as stringers who get paid if they do an assignment, but many are just casual shooters. If they happen to be at the right place at the right time to capture something newsworthy they may get it published.

    So some non-professional news gathers may do real reporting on occasion and post it to blogs. But, if an organization is to run a real news operation it cannot depend on these people, it needs a group of professionals, backed by editors, researchers, and the rest of the team.

    Closely reading statements or reports for missed tidbits is the realm of the independent journalist as exemplified by I.F. Stone.
    Perhaps bloggers will take over this role.
    Rehashing or aggregating is the role of the essayist, not of the reporter. We need to keep these roles clear, even if people tend to lump them all as journalists.

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Tim: You’re right. I actually did it correctly after messing it up and then liked to the wrong one accidentally as I recreated the links but it’s interesting that Yahoo was helpful anyway, in spite of me.

  • Lynn

    Stefan,

    JJ posted the link

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/files/_everyoneisanexpert2.pdf

    to an ebook that explains a community in the works that I believe will perform the function you seek. :-)

  • Soldier’s Dad

    I get my news about the latest model car, not from Detroit, but the mechanic at the corner pub.(Call me stupid, but I’ll take the word of somebody who has to fix the car over the word of a journalist anyday).

    Has Ellen Knickmeyer ever planned a battle? She is the WaPo’s main journalist on the Iraq war. How can she possibly determine “how things are going”.

    I might as well ask her what kind of maintenance problems an 84 Civic with 200,000 miles are normal. She doesn’t even know where the dipstick is.

    She will tell me that the breaks are crap, it burns oil, the tires are bald, it is rusty.

    It’s an 84 civic…of course!!

    Ask my mechanic at the pub, put 2 grand into it, it will go for another 100,000 miles

  • Matt

    Michael Says:

    October 11th, 2005 at 10:16 am
    “show me the line:

    I think he did:

    He defined professional journalism as reporting which adheres to standards of accuracy and writing subjected to an editorial process, and all done with an eye to journalistic ethics, although he said journalism often falls short of these goals.

    “There is a distinction between something that has gone through an editorial process as opposed to something put up by someone that has been through none of those processes,” Thompson said.
    Presumably if the content of a blog fits these conditions, then he’d say it is “professional journalism.” If not, then its just someone posting something on the web.

    - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

    That is an old distinction. Professional journalism for the most part has little credibility with the general population in today’s society.

    I am what you would consider a professional journalist. I went to school. I have that piece of paper on the wall. (In my 20′s, in the TV biz)

    But as a consumer all I care about is getting as much information on the topic at hand as possible. Credibility is not a big issue.

    Choice is king on the internet. And, More and more news is now on an internet. People now choose what to read. Is it done by professional journalists or is it done by eyewitness accounts directly fed to your eye? Either way. . . .it’s news.

  • http://spap-oop.blogspot.com Tish G

    But as a consumer all I care about is getting as much information on the topic at hand as possible. Credibility is not a big issue.

    If credibility is not the big issue, what is? Would you trust a mechanic who works on Chevys to give you an honest and credible opinion on Fords or Toyotas?

    Also, if all a person is looking for is “information” how does one distinguish what is the good information from the not-so-accurate? Is someone’s 6-degrees-from-the-event rant better than the first person account? Luckily, when one does a search, one can tell the difference between a screed and a first-person account (sometimes…)

    And Jeff…most bloggers *are* secondary sources of news. Most are aggregators giving their particular spin on this or that issue–they don’t have sources besides MSM, don’t attend events, don’t move beyond their own little realms. There are a few who do something like reporting in a kind of grassroots local journalism, but are paltry few citizen journalist bloggers who are just the schlub in the street with no writing background whatsoever. And to claim that citizen journalism is written by the uninformed schlub with a good rant is patently misleading.

    I’m seriously peeved at Dave Winer’s attitude. It’s very obvious that he’s spent way too much time in the Ivory Tower.

  • Robert Hoffer

    This is a slippery slope. But it’s pretty simple to choose sides from an ethical persepctive. Here’s the long and short of it: Jeff’s flatly correct here – BLOGS ARE JOURNALISM – possibly the purest form. I know. I looked it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalism – if it says it in wiki it’s got to be true right?

    But way more importantly we especially do NOT need legislation that effectively licenses ‘journalists’ and gives them ‘protection’ under the law. Separating bloggers from other writers is absurd and yes – dangerous. Audiences do that job quite efficiently and it’s clearly not the job of the government.

    You may wonder how I can be so sure of this. Well – it’s because I include on my IM buddy list dead people. That’s right – folks who have passed on. In fact I just left a chat room with both Ben Franklin and Jacobo Timerman who both agree that desplite our confusion here it’s still America and so long as there’s breath in our collective lungs we should shout down the notion of institutional (government or religious) intervention in media of any kind.

    I haven’t pinged Nixon on this subject … he’s a pain to IM with – 2 finger typist – and I just hate having the IM handle ‘trickydick’ on my buddy list … but I’ll bet you could all imagine where he might come in on the subject …

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  • Andy Freeman

    > Would you trust a mechanic who works on Chevys to give you an honest and credible opinion on Fords or Toyotas?

    Since I can get the opinion of mechanics who work on any of those, or any combination thereof, why is that an important question?

    MSM can’t afford to give me that choice. Heck, it can’t afford to give me the choice of listening to ANY mechanic. The best that I can get from MSM is someone who MAY have talked to an appropriate mechanic.

    MSM has fewer sources, not more, plus indirection. In some cases, it happens to have better sources, but that’s not a given. (If I’m interested in a securities law decision, what MSM source can match Bainbridge?)

  • http://beltwayblogroll.nationaljournal.com Danny Glover

    I don’t get the griping. And I don’t say that as an MSMer/wannabe blogger; I say it as a news consumer. I personally don’t want to search on a term like “Harriet Miers” and have to sort through hundreds of irrelevant blog entries to find the needle in the haystack you seem to want Yahoo to build.

    What you see as a patronizing slap against bloggers, treating them as “secondary news sources,” strikes me instead as Yahoo’s attempt to serve a diverse audience. Those of us who love blogs too often forget that not everybody does. Many people find blogs annoying, unreliable, biased and sensational — the same kinds of complaints bloggers lodge against the MSM. Many more like to get their news from traditional news outlets simply because they favor that format. Others, like me, prefer a news diet that features both blogs and MSM, but we appreciate technology that helps us organize our media plates.

    I have more to say at Beltway Blogroll: http://beltwayblogroll.nationaljournal.com/archives/2005/10/separate_yet_eq.php

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  • http://www.ChinesePod.com/blog/ Ken

    Yahoo also has a podcast search. It’s still in beta, but it’s excellent.
    http://www.podcasts.yahoo.com

  • CherylE

    As a professional journalist (Yes! I have a degree from one of the finest institutions in the nation that I’m damned proud of), there is a BIG distinction between professional journalists and bloggers. The process of a professional journalist involves having at least one — usually several — other set of eyes looking at your copy before it is published. Bloggers…they can say whatever they want and *bam* it’s published online! It’s those other sets of eyes (that are SUPPOSED to keep the information accurate and unpartial ) that is the big distinction. I think what Yahoo is doing, putting blogs next to news stories, is great. Bloggers are the editorial section — not professionals.

  • Andy Freeman

    > The process of a professional journalist involves having at least one — usually several — other set of eyes looking at your copy before it is published.

    And which of those eyes know more about the story than the reporter? (If any of them do, why aren’t they writing the story?)

    The review function of those eyes is a poor substitute for feedback and immediate competition, two things that professional journalists haven’t been exposed to very much. (Trading headlines the night before isn’t competition.)

    Note that one can commit professional journalism on-line, so if it’s clearly superior, it will win. However, that takes more than “we’re professional-grade”.

  • http://www.pokkari.tv/blog/category/author/chope/ Charles Hope

    Yeah, CherylE, that’s wonderful. So I can have several pairs of eyes review the text written by someone who is anything but competent in the subject under discussion, or I can read unreviewed text (*gasp*) by someone with first-hand experience in the matter.

    Instead of hiding the editing process in an office, in blogging the process is exposed for all to see, in the form of trackbacks and comments.

    Professional editing is a case of the blind correcting the blind! If writing by topical experts is editorializing, then give me nothing but editorials. The end of Professional Journalism can’t come quickly enough for me.

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