TCS Daily

Where Next?

By Pejman Yousefzadeh - September 21, 2004 12:00 AM

After exposing the CBS-held documents about President Bush's National Guard service as forgeries -- "Rathergate" -- it is only natural to wonder and speculate about how blogs will continue to act as a supplement and fact-checker to Big Media in the near future. Blogs will certainly evolve and break new ground with enhancements in technology. At the same time, blogs can remain in the ascendant by continuing to do what they do so well with current technology and publishing methods -- by using the specialized talents of bloggers to provide a needed perspective on the news.

The concept of self-publishing writers on the World Wide Web -- free from any editorial control save the editorial control they impose upon themselves -- was inconceivable until publishing tools like Blogger, Movable Type and Scoop made the ability to self-publish available to millions of people around the world. Having used these publishing tools to enter the medium of the written word, bloggers may next seek to make their mark in other media.

The most promising medium for blogger expansion is in the realm of video blogging -- which blogger Jeff Jarvis explains and discusses. The advantages of video blogging are the same as those of televised news. Viewers would be able to form a personal connection with video bloggers more easily than they can with print bloggers -- just as they are able to make connections with television reporters and anchors. In addition, the use of television graphics may help carry the message and arguments of the video blogger in a manner not available to the print medium. Video blogging may be especially helpful in any future debates between the Blogosphere and mainstream televised news, and may perhaps grow prominent enough that in the future, Big Media television journalists will consent to making appearances on video blogs to lend their perspectives on stories being discussed in the Blogosphere. Wouldn't it be interesting, after all, to have Dan Rather appear on a video blog to defend or explain the actions of CBS in relation to the Bush National Guard memos?

It is worth remembering that blogs have won their spurs thus far by continually proving themselves in relation to a series of stories. Blogs played an instrumental role in publicizing the remarks made by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (who said that if the one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948, America would have been more problem-free as a result), thus helping to force Lott out of his leadership position. Blogs helped provide valuable supplemental coverage during the war in Iraq, and have so thoroughly permeated the public consciousness that both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions made room for bloggers to cover their events.

With each major news story, blogs have gone further towards establishing and enhancing their credibility. In this campaign season, blogs can continue to provide valuable information and editorial statements -- such as the service provided in debunking the fake memos possessed by CBS. And as future big news stories come down the pike, the Blogosphere can continue to win its spurs and make itself a respected segment of the national media by continuing to use the specialized talents of lawyer-bloggers, political science-bloggers, economist-bloggers and journalist-bloggers to keep Big Media honest on the facts, and to provide the kind of viewpoint many segments of Big Media do not have the expertise to provide. Obviously, none of this is inconsistent with advances with blog technology. But advances in blog technology are not a sine qua non for the continuing success of the Blogosphere -- at least not in the near term.

Anyone who is interested in blogs will be anxious to see how developments in technology affect the Blogosphere and its evolution. But the key to the Blogosphere's success is the talent of the many bloggers who have influenced serious and high-profile stories. So long as the Blogosphere continues to fill the niche it has carved out for itself -- a niche Big Media at times seems unwilling or unable to fill -- the popularity and relevance of blogs will increase still further.

The author is a TCS contributor. Read more of his writing here.


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