In defense of bloggers

Much has been discussed about the “death of journalism”.

I won’t get into the full story but many of you are familiar with the issues. In a world of low cost distribution, google search, aggregation, freemium, fragmentation of classifieds and an increased supply of content, the traditional way of producing news (with layers of management, layers of costs and layers of rules) just isn’t as compelling (economically or content-wise) as it once was.

We all care about favorite sources of mainstream media. I love the New York Times. I’m sure many of you feel the same way about your favorite traditional media source. I believe the best ones will survive with a cost model and content model that is rationalized in the current world we live in. There is no going back.

As we all try to figure this stuff out there seems to be a backlash against bloggers. Maybe it’s been out there for awhile. I don’t think this backlash is healthy or accurate. The anti-blogger feels that quality, honesty and lack of bias are missing in our blogs.

This assumes that mainstream media gets it right which we know isn’t the case. Let’s not forget, there are many examples where mainstream media gets it wrong.

One of worst examples of this was the rush to war in Iraq. The drumbeats were on full blast on mainstream media after 9/11. When President Bush decided to go after WMD’s in Iraq, our press bought it hook, line and sinker. Generals became advisers and on air personalities. The American flag graphic was overlayed on news broadcast every night. To this day, I haven’t seen mainstream media apologize for fucking this up.

The best part about blogs is the relationship between the writer and the reader. Powerful and vibrant communities build within blogs in ways that doesn’t seem to happen with mainstream media. The blogger doesn’t need to impress or ask permission from their editor. They engage with their readers in comments or tweets. They get feedback with analytics. They have a debate with the community and often they follow up their posts with updated data and opinions. Each learns from the other.

Many bloggers do their best to give us great information. Talking Points Memo ( often breaks stories that mainstream misses. Fact checking is done at a massive scale that shows the power of the wisdom of the crowd. Many bloggers review consumer electronics much faster AND better than mainstream tech journalists.

And we know bloggers are more important than ever. Take a look at the NYT and WSJ online. They both have blogs of their own and link to other blogs. I’m guessing but most of the links i click on from my Twitter timeline go to blogs.

Yes, there are some pretty bad bloggers out there. There are some bad apples everywhere. But the best ones reveal themselves. And the sum of all of these blogs in action everyday is a thing of a beauty.