Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Bloggers Keep Mainstream Press In Line: Fourth Estate for the Fourth Estate?

The USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review reports on several recent incidents in which weblogs proved to be the impetus for major newspapers correcting content and policies. Weblogger Robert Cox' parody of The New York Times' correction page (NOTE: this appears like a regular NYT page) got quite a bit of attention when more straightforward complaints about inaccuracies in columnist materials failed to get results - enough to have the Times modify policy on columnist accuracy. An Australian blogger also uncovered inaccuracies a fabricated quote in a Chicago Tribune story. It's sometimes interesting to listen to mainstream journalists turn their noses up at weblogs as less-than-real journalism - and then discover that the Fourth Estate needs their own Fourth Estate at times to keep then honest. Some find it easy to confuse a technology - weblogs - with the content that it supports, which varies in quality about as much as it may with any other authoring technology. The awareness that highly aware and professional webloggers provide on both mainstream media and other sources of supposedly reliable information is an extremely important element in the emerging ability of readers to separate fact from fiction with or without officially approved sources of content. Those "official" sources would be wise to consider how they may be able to participate in this dialog more directly, so that their own credibility may have more effective "street" credentials that will be accepted by those in the know over time.
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