: Doc Searls challenges bloggers to get off their duffs and report.

Take the Air America story: There’s nothing stopping a blogger, Doc says, from getting to the bottom of it and calling the station or the guy who took them off their air or their lawyers or their hosts. And when a blogger gets that news, thanks to RSS and Technorati, to name two tools in our bag, that news will be distributed immediately, beating the big boys if (a) they’re waiting for their next edition or (b) they’re too lazy to get off their duffs to report.

Now there are a few speed bumps on the way to a blogger Pulitzer.

First is the matter of time and resources: Unless paid, most of us don’t have the the time or inclination to spend time reporting a story. But many would.

Second is the issue of access; when you call many a source and they ask where you’re from and you say, you may not get far. But I think that will change as sources (and flacks) realize this is a new way to get their stories told around the press. And I’m waiting for the first case of a blogger fighting to get press credentials for some official event; they publish and have a public like any other news media and should win that fight.

Third, there’s the question of inclination. I think many bloggers assume they’re just not reporters. But reporting is nothing more than asking a question and reporting the answers. There’s no reason any of us could not go off seeking those answers.

I’ve spent a month harping on Howard Stern and the First Amendment but it wasn’t until a magazine assigned me to write a print story about it that I contacted a few experts (including fellow bloggers) and the FCC to get answers to questions. At least one commenter challenged me to do it before the assignment. I probably should have taken up the challenge; it would have made for a better argument and a better blog. (By the way, it appears that story will now see the dark of print…. More later.)

Of course, you don’t have to report. That’s the beauty of this medium of links; you can link to the reporting of others and comment on it or just point it out. And that’s still valuable.

But consider Doc’s challenge. The next time you get riled by something happening in your town, there is nothing stopping you from calling the mayor or attending the town meeting or asking fellow citizens when they have to say. Ditto a company. Ditto a university. Ditto Congress.

You can report. Anyone can.