: J.D. Lassica writes in the OJR about transparency and trust, blogs and news media. He also gives us a fascinating chart from Technorati tracking inbound links to big media v. blogs. For the story, JD asked me to riff in email (a very dangerous thing to do!). If you dare, click on “more” to see what I sent (soundbites you’ve heard before if you’ve made the mistake of hanging around here).
We are witnessing the growth of a culture of transparency. It has its
roots in open-source software, which believes in the wisdom of the
crowd; and in the gift economy of Amazon reviews and MP3 sharing; and in
Bloggers are more trusted, I think, because they are human and too often
news organizations are not. Bloggers tell you who they are (usually) and
what their backgrounds and biases are and their readers can judge them
and engage with them on a personal level. News organizations are big and
often monolithic and are reluctant to admit let alone share perspective
or agendas. And the reporters and editors in them sometimes hide inside
the cathedral of journalism — witness the frighteningly disdainful and
cluelessly blind email NYU’s Jay Rosen got from a University of Missouri
journalism professor calling citizen journalists “bloogers and pretend
journalists with no commitment to ethics, laws, fairness etc.” Well,
that’s a fine way to respect your audience and reach out to the people
who are rejecting your journalism.
And that gets me to the nut of it:
Bloggers see news as a conversation. It’s not over when it’s in print;
it’s not fishwrap. News improves and the facts and the truth come closer
when the discussion begins: when bloggers “fact-check your ass” (in the
words of blogger Ken Layne); when readers become writers (in the words
of Jay Rosen); when the audience asks the questions the reporters didn’t
ask or finds the facts they couldn’t find or adds the perspective they
couldn’t think of.
I often tell news people that their first and most important reaction to
the blogging phenom should not be to write blogs but to read them. We
have had the printing press for centuries; now the people own the press
and the broadcast tower and it is our turn to listen. It is our turn to
engage in a conversation on equal footing. We need to ask ourselves in
the news business whether we see ourselves truly as members of our
community or still above it.
If we are to enter into a conversation with the people we once called
our audience, we must be open with them. They expect that of us in this
culture of transparency.
And shouldn’t we be transparent? We demand transparency of the
government officials, politicians, business leaders, even celebrities we
cover. It is our turn to open the shades, to reveal our process and
prejudice, to engage in the conversation, to join in the community… to
be transparent. Shouldn