A great JD Lasica piece over at OJR looks at the growing influence of blogs. In it, Mary Hodder (Napsterization and Technorati) provides four reasons why people are starting to trust bloggers over general-assignment reporters:
Niche expertise. Newspapers try to cover the whole world, while bloggers can be experts with a deep knowledge about a topic like open-source software or micro-biology.
Transparency in motives. Bloggers are upfront about their biases and subjective approach, and they have greater freedom to speak from the heart and use a personal voice. Most journalists are constrained by an institutional objectivity. “I often read a reporter’s story and wonder, what’s their experience? Where are they coming from? What’s the context? What do they really think?”
Transparency in process. Bloggers link to documents, sources and supporting evidence to buttress their own authority. “The top-down press articles I see are written as if they’re not connected to anything, as if they just came out of a vacuum.”
Forthrightness about mistakes. When bloggers err, the credible ones publish a mea culpa and take responsibility, with the corrected information alongside their original posting. Not so with newspapers, whose front-page mistakes are corrected in an inside page, or broadcast news, where mistakes are almost never acknowledged.
Jeff Jarvis says a call for transparency should be appreciated by a news culture that demands transparency of government officials, politicians, business leaders and celebrities. “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’t we, of all people and professions, be the most transparent?”
Yes, we should.