Journalism as democracy

Journalism as democracy
: Howard Rheingold writes in OJR about the power of online — weblogs, moblogs, et al — in re journalism and democracy, making the point I was trying to make about the interest in the Iran story on weblogs vs. the coverage of it in media:

Journalism, if it is to deserve the name, is not about the quality of the camera, but about the journalist’s intuition, integrity, courage, inquisitiveness, analytic and expressive capabilities, and above all, the trust the journalist has earned among readers.

Good journalists discern compelling stories in events, cultivate and mobilize networks of sources, double check and triple check facts, develop reputations that can only be won by getting the story right week after week, year after year….

Now, by subscribing and linking to online sources we trust, the consumers of blog content are becoming a kind of collective editorial system. The more attentively we sift and analyze and share our discoveries online, the more the writers of blogs (and whatever blogs evolve into) can grow a social intelligence….

For all its entertainment and social networking value, the most important promise of blogging is that it could help revivify the moribund public sphere that is as essential to democracy as voting. The petitions, letters to the editor, pamphleteering that preceded the American and French revolutions were essential enabling institutions for the experiments in self-government that followed….

Thus, the collective brain of the blogosphere edits the news (and fact-checks it) and brings not only stories but also causes of interest to the surface (see Iran). [via Cyberwriter]