Now in stereo

Now in stereo

: What should the relationship of weblogs and established media be?

Dave Winer says in my comments below:

BTW, who said blogging was going to overthrow journalism? I’ve heard and believe that journalism is not doing a great job, but that blogs are overthrowing it? Feh. That’s not what’s happening.

Right. Weblogs complement established media — if established media will start to realize that (and, in some quarters, they are).

Having seen the raging success of Jay Rosen and his Top 10 Lists of what’s old and new about new media, I hope he won’t mind if I horn in on the technique — albeit not as poetically — and create my own Top 10 Baker’s Dozen List about the relationship of weblogs and online media to established media, from the big guys’ perspective (since I am the rare, two-headed beast that straddles both worlds):

1. Weblogs are meant to be read. The first, best thing a reporter, editor, publisher, producer can do is read weblogs — not write them, read them. We in established media have had printing presses for hundreds of years. Now it’s everybody else’s turn. Now the people formerly known as “they” have a voice and we should listen. We should put the spotlight on “them” and stand back. See what we will learn.

2. Weblogs add information. Established media are in the information business. And weblogs bring in more information, often from new sources. If the big guys learn how to take advantage of that, then weblogs will not replace them; they will enhance them. That is why I am trying to bring blogs to towns, so citizen journalists can gather information no institution can afford to gather on its own (especially these days).

3. Weblogs bring perspective. See the Howell Raines post below. We, the people, formerly known as the audience, want to express our opinions and know the opinions of those talking to us. Weblogs allow anyone to become a pundit.

4. Weblogs target. They are a great way to reach and serve specific audiences with content — and advertising (and to find out what those audiences want to know).

5. Weblogs capture buzz. If you want to know what the people are saying and thinking, you can (a) hire a company to perform very expensive surveys and focus groups and hope they’re right, (b) go to the nearest Dennys and eavesdrop and hope you like patty melts, or (c) read weblogs. Weblogs are good at capturing and predicting buzz.

6. Weblogs produce story ideas. I know of one reporter on one paper — Maureen Ryan at the ChiTrib — who is dedicated to finding great stories online. There should be more. And, for that matter, every reporter should be mining weblogs for ideas. They’re there to be had, ripe for the plucking. Just go get them.

7. Weblogs find (and filter) news. Remember agents? Those little virtual PacMen (well, actually, they used to bring to mind the Scrubbing Bubbles commercial) were supposed to go out into the vast, wired world and and find news and other good stuff for you. Science fiction, it was. Agents died. But weblogs live. Weblogs — and their agents, aka their readers, that is, real people — fan out and find all kinds of wonderful stuff.

8. Weblogs fact check our ass. It’s wonderful to have this world of natterers and naysayers out there, for they will fact-check (and even copy-edit) blogs and newspapers, magazines, and broadcast. That is a good thing. That adds to the credibility of all media. If Howell Raines (see above and below) had heard what people were saying about him and his paper before his own staff screamed it in his ear, he might have held onto his job.

9. Weblogs add speed. During the war, no single media outlet, print or broadcast, or online, could keep up with the news-gathering power of Command Post. I didn’t say reporting. I said gathering. The weblogs brought together the best of reporting from every available outlet — all around the world — with incredible, impressive speed. That’s valuable. A wise news organization will harnass that. Come the next war (God forbid) I’d license not only AP content but also Command Post links.

10. Weblogs breed talent. And, lo, Denton begat Gawker and Gawker begat Spiers and Spiers begat TheKicker. I just recommended another blogger to a magazine editor looking for new talent. And there are more where they came from (just ask Denton). A wise editor should be looking to bloggers to find new and fresh (not to mention cheap) voices. Mind you, some people are better at writing for blogs than for print; they thrive in the immediacy and may wilt in the smokehouse of editing. But there is great talent to be found here. All you have to do is read.

11. Weblogs experiment. Weblogs find new ways to use photos and audio and I’ve played with video weblogs. Weblogs will innovate and if we watch, old media can learn new tricks.

12. Weblogs are cheap. You want to find an easy, inexpensive, fast, geek-free, hassle-free way to publish and manage content? It’s here. It won’t put out the New York Times Online. But it will put out breaking news or reports from correspondents in the field or, soon, reports from the Little League game.

13. Weblogs interact. Once old-media people (as opposed to an old media people) have read weblogs and learned from them and milked them for news and perspective and buzz and talent and then started weblogs themselves, there’s one, last, most important value be be derived from having and reading weblogs: They will help you gain an entirely new relationship with the people we used to call the audience, the folks we are trying to serve. We talk to them and now they talk back and not just to yell at us now but to say something. We get to know them; they get to know us. That’s new. That’s exciting.

Jay is right that weblogs are neither entirely new nor old. Dave is right that they will not replace what comes before. They will add to it.

: Dave Winer adds this.