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Andie Miller

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

If Kapuscinski had a weblog

An early history of blogging.

Written for ‘Creative Writing for Journalists’, Graduate Journalism Programme, Wits University, June 2004.

 

Introduction

Since the beginning of 1999, when there were only 23 weblogs known to be in existence (Blood, 2000),1 and the subsequent introduction of free and easy-to-use software, there has been an explosion of them on the Internet: ‘two million and counting’ (Rosen, 2004). They are now commonly referred to as blogs, and their keepers are known as bloggers.2

There have been numerous debates about what a weblog is (and even more about what it is not), but more recently the debate has progressed to whether weblogs can be considered journalism or not. The fall 2003 issue3 of the Nieman Reports, of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, dedicated thirty pages to exploring the relationship between weblogs and journalism. Eighteen ‘bloggers and journalists (some whom wear both hats)’ shared their perspectives, but they continued to disagree on whether blogs can be considered journalism (Nieman, 2003, pp. 59-98).

 

So what is a weblog?

Most simply put, a weblog is a webpage of dated entries that are reverse-chronological, and include a mix of commentary and links. The commentary can vary from brief and pithy remarks on a round-up of links, to extended essays with links to sources embedded in the texts.

Apart from organisational weblogs, and those maintained by professional journalists, they are the work of hobbyists and amateurs – from amare ‘to love’ (Oxford, 1999).4

They can be subject specific, or not, serious or irreverent, and the range spans the spectrum of personal journals, to an eyewitness account of the war in Iraq.5

The more sophisticated bloggers excel at ‘pulling the threads of a story together’ (Rosen, 2004), and integrating several different news sources, by scouring the coverage available online, and presenting their own thesis on the story, with links to various accounts of the story. By doing this, one reader comments that she is able to ‘keep up on current news and events from multiple perspectives’ (Conan, 2004). The majority of blogs are participatory,6 by providing a comments section for readers. Most bloggers are willing to engage in conversation with anyone desiring genuine dialogue, and they leave themselves open to being challenged on their facts and their views. In the words of Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine, ‘news is a conversation’ (Jarvis, 2003). All that is required is a computer and access to an Internet connection.

 

The case of Daily Summit (www.dailysummit.net)

In 2002 British writer and policy analyst, David Steven, embarked on a novel undertaking. He persuaded the British Council to fund a weblog, which he would run live for the duration, from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). As he wrote to Rebecca Blood:

I’ve long been interested in the potential of blogging to open a window onto major events. We now have the chance to report on what happens when you ask 106 world leaders and 65,000 other delegates to come up with a ‘blueprint for the 21st century’.

At the moment, the site is tracking preparations for the event and reflecting opinion from across the political spectrum. We officially launch on 19 August and will be live from Joburg a few days later. To be honest, we don’t know what will happen then, but the idea is to wander the streets and the corridors, picking up the news and the gossip and post to the site as often as a working internet connection looms into view (Steven, August 2002a).

Blood, then recently the author of The Weblog Handbook, responded on her blog:

Weblogs as journalism? If you’ve read my book, you know that I’m skeptical–I think the form excels at filtering, media criticism, and eye-witness accounting but is generally ill-suited to offering an original, complete story of an event. But this has potential (Blood, 2002).

A year after WSSD, Blood had not changed her mind. She wrote in the Guardian that ‘Weblogs can be used in journalism, but they are not, in themselves, works of journalism… News organisations now frequently maintain their own weblogs – a practice pioneered by the Guardian – and a few independent weblogs contain original reporting, but these are comparatively rare’ (Blood, 2003).

Her main concern seems to be that ‘those who try to define the phenomenon in terms of current institutions are completely missing the point’ (Blood, 2003). JD Lasica, a contributing editor at the Online Journalism Review (who maintains his own blog, JD’s New Media Musings) explains: ‘The fear is that if this gets coopted by the mass media, it will just become another traditional media outlet’ (Lasica, 2002). Arguably, however, in her ongoing need to define weblogs as distinct, Blood is undermining their being recognised as an alternative news source.

 

Where are the gatekeepers?

One of the first arguments from those in the mainstream media who are vehement that weblogs cannot be considered journalism is the issue of gatekeepers. ‘Who edits these people?’ asked Aaron Brown, CNN’s lead news anchor. Joan Connell, former executive producer for opinion and communities at MSNBC, says that she ‘would submit that (the newsroom) editing function really is the factor that makes it journalism’ (Lasica, 2003).

But others have suggested that ‘the newsroom’ involves complex processes (Shoemaker, 1991), and it is exposure to the organisational culture, its practices, professional codes, and influences – rather than mere editorial intervention – that produces a journalist, knowledgeable in the methods of news production. There is a learned set of values and behaviour, they argue, around what is said to be news, and around sourcing and verification. A journalist earns credibility and authority through this process, and with the endorsement of a credible newsroom. Only in this way can news be fairly and accurately reported.

Many bloggers, however, disagree. Matt Haughey, the creator of Metafilter, a blog which has been in existence since early 1999, believes that it is readers and the community that act as gatekeepers (Raynsford, 2003).

Christopher Allbritton – an ‘independent journalist’ who maintained his blog, Back to Iraq, from Iraq, solely from financial contributions from his readers – puts it this way: ‘Instead of having one editor, I had thousands… After I referred to my mountain journey as being like a “Bataan Death March,” I gave a very public mea culpa. Some of my readers had lost relatives on that much more hellish journey and had complained on the site’s public comment section about my choice of words’ (Nieman, 2003, pp. 84-85).

Another reader, commenting on Allbritton’s site, gave reasons for preferring blogs to mainstream media coverage:

… what is different in Iraqi blogs, and in the firsthand information I gain from my relatives in Baghdad, is that it’s about the details. Print media, in Europe or (the) U.S., may offer good stories, but they are about the grander scheme of things. Putting things in political context and all….

I cannot relate to the U.S. administration and the Shia Sunni relations. However, I can relate to the hot roof on Riverbend‘s house. I can relate to the lack of electricity in Salam‘s house. I can relate to the flowers that get dusted over by the dirt that comes with bombing, in the garden of my father-in-law in Baghdad. I can relate to you, Christoffer (sic), when a bomb explodes on one of your first days in Baghdad…

That’s what you basically offer me, Christoffer: you make it more personal than it already was.

Perhaps war should be made as personal as it gets (Allbritton, 2004).

By Connell’s standards, though, and those like her who argue that editorial intervention is key, Allbriton’s blog – despite his training from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University – would not qualify as journalism. Having a public and a conscience, without acting on behalf of an established institution, is not enough.7

Those bloggers who compare accounts of stories, and refer to secondary sources, assert that it is the act of linking to these sources that makes their analysis transparent. In the area of transparency, blogs are seen by some to be ahead of the mainstream media (Nieman, 2003, pp. 61-63).

‘When I’m reading a blog that features reportage or fact-checking,’ says Haughey, ‘I can determine myself if the author is being factual because they’ll reveal their sources in links, and I can read up on them to determine how impartial they are being. If they’re not sticking to standards, it’ll be noticed by readers and other webloggers, who will take the author to task for the impropriety’ (Raynsford, 2003).

Academic and new media consultant, Clay Shirky, puts it this way: The order of things in broadcast is “filter, then publish.” The order in communities is ‘publish, then filter”‘ (Shirky, 2002). Blood adds that ‘Bloggers who reference but do not link material, that might, in its entirety, undermine their conclusions, are intellectually dishonest’ (Nieman, 2003, pp. 61-63).

It is worth mentioning here that the Drudge Report, the website of former Fox News Channel talk show host Matt Drudge – while it is a popular news source (with a Google PageRank of 8/10), since his coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal – is not technically a blog, since it does not follow the basic requirements of the blog format: reverse-chronological entries, with commentary accompanying the links provided. For this reason, Drudge’s reporting is not transparent, and remains questionable.

Regarding the question of gatekeeping, a cynic might argue that if a journalist is unethical, and determined to lie and fabricate, he or she will manage to get around whatever gatekeeping structures are in place.

Charles Lane, the former New Republic editor responsible, in 1998, for finally exposing Stephen Glass – their 25 year-old ‘rising star’, who wrote dozens of high-profile articles in which he made up people, quotations, places, events, and even entire organisations with websites (Kroft, 2003) – suggests that the reason Glass’s tall stories were believed, and made it past the gatekeepers, is because ‘They fit into the pre-existing grooves that are already etched into everybody’s heads, things we think or are predisposed to believe are true’ (Rowe, 2004).8

More recently, as revealed in April 2003, there was the case of Jayson Blair, who was discovered to have ‘plagiarized quotes and fabricated material in more than 35 of his articles’ (Kroft, 2003). And this was at the New York Times, with a relatively large staff employed for fact-checking.9

A pragmatic sub-editor might say that the major difference between a newspaper and a blogger is that a newspaper can be sued. This will make a newspaper avoid publishing anything that’s obviously inadequately researched, biased, or – most importantly – potentially libellous (The Australian, 2001). 10

 

What is journalism?

The view of JD Lasica, is that bloggers are ‘engaging in random acts of journalism whenever they report on events they witness first-hand or when they offer analysis, background or commentary on a newsworthy topic’ (Raynsford, 2003). Matthew Buckland – editor of South Africa’s Mail & Guardian online, and a contributor to the Poynter Institute’s blog E-Media Tidbits – is more circumspect. Though he cites probably the most famous blogger, Salam Pax, (particularly since Pax has become a mainstream columnist for the Guardian, and published a book11) as ‘one blog I did get excited about’, he cautions readers: ‘when reading your next blog, just remember, it is unlikely to be a piece of ‘journalism’ you’re reading’ (Buckland, 2004).

But Jay Rosen, press critic and current chair of journalism at New York University, suggests that we are asking the wrong question with the ‘are weblogs journalism?’ debate, which he sees as ‘tired’. He writes on his weblog, PressThink:

By ‘journalism’ we ought to mean the practice of it, not the profession of it. Journalism can happen on any platform. It is independent of its many delivery devices. This also means that journalism is not the same thing – at all – as ‘the media.’ The media, or Big Media as some call it, does not own journalism, and cannot dispose of it on a whim (Rosen, 2004).

Rather, he suggests, we should be answering the question ‘what is journalism?’, and in this way – since all weblogs are not equal – some will qualify, and many (the majority) will not. It means, however, that those legitimately contributing to the production of news, by ‘addressing, engaging and freely informing a “public” about events in its world’ (Rosen, 2004), will receive credit where it is due, and be taken seriously as an alternative news source.

Journalism, Rosen also believes, depends on ‘the awayness of things’:

The harbor town small enough so that everyone knows when a new ship arrives needs no provider of shipping news. By going about its business, the town already has the news, so to speak…

In this sense, journalism is modern because the scale that requires it is modern…. (Rosen, 2004).

James W Carey, Professor of International Journalism at Columbia University, welcomed a group of new students to the Graduate School of Journalism with these words:

Journalism can be practiced virtually anywhere and under almost any circumstances. Just as medicine, for example, can be practiced in enormous clinics organized like corporations or in one-person offices, journalism can be practiced in multinational conglomerates or by isolated freelancers…. The practice does not depend on the technology or bureaucracy. It depends on the practitioner mastering a body of skill and exercising it to some worthwhile purpose (Carey, 1995).

The key issue here I think is the one of ‘mastering a body of skill’. By April 2004, even Rebecca Blood had begun to concede that what Steven had done was journalism. ‘When a reporter repeats a politician’s assertions without verifying whether they are true, that is not [journalism],’ she wrote on her weblog. ‘When a blogger writes up daily accounts of an international conference, as David Steven did at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, that is journalism’ (Blood, 2004).12

There is no doubt that blogs cannot replace the mainstream media – as public relations executive, Steve Rubel, demonstrated in his recent news experiment, where ‘he gave up his regular media habits (newspaper, online, radio, and to a lesser extent TV) and learned what was going on in the world solely by checking weblogs’ for a week13 – but he confirmed, says Steve Outing, senior editor at the Poynter Institute, that they ‘can become the primary entry point for people looking to stay current on niche topics…. An enterprising blogger/journalist could do well by figuring out how to own a topic – blogging the Tour de France, or Wimbledon, for instance’ (Outing, 2004a).

Says Outing of his own media consumption habits: ‘I track a bunch of blogs… [they] lead me to articles of interest to me on traditional-brand media sites’ (Outing, 2004b).

 

Kapuściński’s conundrum

On his return from WSSD in Johannesburg, writing from his home in Dorset on the South coast of England, Steven concluded that ‘Joburg felt like diving into a river, abandoning oneself to the strong currents, and then crawling out the other side.’ The Daily Summit weblog received 110 000 visits in a two month period, against a target of 30 000, and feedback from visitors suggested that most found it a ‘highly original and useful resource’ (Steven, 2002c). ‘And so I’m wondering whether there are other rivers to cross…. The web offers opportunities for the agency reporter reborn,14 but without the blockages Kapuściński complains about’ (Steven, 2002b).

Steven was referring here to what Polish reporter and travel journalist, Ryszard Kapuściński – who “has covered 27 coups and revolutions in nearly as many countries” (Jack, 2001), and is considered “a poet among journalists” (World Press Review) – had said in an interview with Bill Buford in Granta magazine15 fifteen years earlier:

My responsibility was always to cover an event: to locate the geopolitical story, and as quickly as possible send a cable down the line with its details…. [But] a press cable is a very conservative medium for conveying news. We are always limited: by the number of words, by the time we can get on the machine, by the money, by the information that the newspapers back home want to receive. But the realities we face, especially in the Third World, are so much richer, more complicated, than a newspaper will ever allow us to report.

It is not the story that is not getting expressed: it’s what surrounds the story. The climate, the atmosphere of the street, the feeling of the people, the gossip of the town, the smell; the thousand, thousand elements of reality that are part of the event you read about in 600 words in your morning paper (Buford, 1987).

‘A web log would have removed Kapuściński’s “feeling of inadequacy”,’ Steven suggests. ‘He’d still have had the immediacy, but he’d also have had the space to digress, embroider, and speculate. His story-telling could have been cumulative, rather than a series of discreet bulletins. Themes would have emerged over time. And he could have used back links to reawaken a story that new developments made seem prescient, poignant or even foolish’ (Steven, 2002d).

Limitations in style and language had been a great source of frustration to Kapuściński as a journalist. As guest speaker at the first Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage in 2003 (now 71-years-old) he elaborated on this:

… as a correspondent of a press agency, I had this unsatisfied feeling resulting from the paucity of the language of press information when confronting the rich, full-of-variety, colourful, often hard-to-define reality of those cultures, customs or beliefs.

The everyday language of information that we use in the media is very poor, stereotypical and formulaic.

For this reason, huge areas of reality we deal with are beyond the sphere of description, which the formulaic message is unable to convey (Kapuscinski, 2003).

His solution, he said, was to begin employing the techniques of the New Journalism, following in the footsteps of writers like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer; ‘the kind of writing in which authentic events, true stories and accidents are described with language containing the writer’s personal opinions and reactions’ (Kapuściński, 2003).

 

Weblogs – the new New Journalism?

Weblogs have also been compared to the New Journalism.16 Sometimes to the ‘gonzo’ journalism of Hunter S Thompson – since in the most extreme cases they can be ‘opinionated, ranting, often incoherent and frequently biased with little regard for accuracy or balance’ (Raynsford, 2003) – but generally they resemble the New Journalism in the way that they borrow techniques from fiction. Things like dialogue, and most particularly: voice.17

Many weblogs resemble columns and opinion writing in the way that they highlight the personality of the writer. The best blogs have a ‘powerful, interesting and charistmatic voice’, a ‘strong editorial voice’ (Conan, 2004), and as with regular newspaper columns, readers may frequent a blog because they agree with the point of view of the author, and enjoy his or her style of writing, or conversely love to hate it. Bloggers are frequently biased in their allegiances, but their weblogs are generally well researched. As Blood puts it, ‘Bloggers often find angles that professional reporters have missed, or ask questions reporters have neglected to ask…. Professional journalists, often working under extreme time pressure, may not have time to research a piece as thoroughly as they would like. Bloggers have no externally imposed deadlines, and no mandate to research equally the claims of both sides’ (Blood, 2004).

But in Steven’s experience, ‘As soon as I started working on Daily Summit, I had this strong sense that I shouldn’t be too opinionated. I wanted the site to have a distinctive “voice”, but not a clear point of view. I had dinner on the last night with Ronald Bailey, of Reason magazine, and lunch the next day with Michael Dorsey, of the Sierra Club. To be on good terms with political opposites felt like an achievement’ (Steven, 2004d).

And he agrees that what was once said to Hunter S Thompson about his style of journalism – ‘You throw yourself into the middle of a story and write your way out of it’ (Hahn, 1997) – could very well be referring to his experience of blogging the WSSD.

In 2003 Steven went on to cover Daily Summit 2 from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva, and the second phase of WSIS takes place in Tunis in 2005. ‘I have no doubt,’ he says, ‘that very soon, someone is going to push blogging onto the next level. Armchair bloggers can only go so far. But out on the road, there’s a new type of journalism waiting to be born’ (Steven, 2004). It is clear that he would like to be that someone.

After WSSD in 2002, he wrote to Blood: ‘I felt like I was on one of those ‘unplugged’ tours, just me, a guitar (well, website actually) and the audience.’

Steven doesn’t think of himself as a journalist (Otter, 2002); he finds definitions immaterial. But he added on a pragmatic note that it is really a question of access. Whether what he was doing was journalism or not, he ‘most definitely need[ed] a press card!’ (Steven, 2002e).18

And while Tunis 2005 is still some way off, he is currently investigating ways of making it possible to become a full time roving blogger.

 

Conclusion

Just a couple of months ago, columnist and New Journalism veteran, Jimmy Breslin (now 74-years-old), said in an interview: ‘Don’t call me a journalist, I hate the word; it’s pretentious!’ He prefers to think of himself as a reporter. ‘The whole key is the amount of work you do,’ he said. ‘It all starts with the shoe leather… You can tell how you do it in your feet’ (Donadio, 2004).

Kapuściński said something similar years ago in his conversation with Bill Buford: ‘…for me, what I have to say is validated by the fact that I was there, that I witnessed the event. I sometimes call it literature by foot’ (Buford, 1987).

‘It was the same in Johannesburg,’ says Steven. ‘Maybe a dozen journalists were present for the climax of the political negotiations. The other 4000 were in a bed, bar or brothel. Why? Because they had no reason to be there. Their deadline was passed. They’d filed their story. Their editors didn’t want too much detail. I, however, felt compelled to wait around. Like an agency reporter, I was on a continuous deadline. Most journalists I spoke to seemed bored by the summit and by their jobs. I had to force myself to go back to the hotel at night – there was always more to do/say/find out about’ (Steven, 2002d).

Whether we call them journalists or not, what bloggers invariably possess – that much of journalism with its deadlines and word-counts has killed in its reporters – is an enthusiasm for telling the stories.

If a young Kapuściński was starting out today, and publishing his writing on a weblog, perhaps we wouldn’t call it journalism. Perhaps we would call it ‘literary reportage‘, as Kapuściński himself describes his writing. But whatever we called it, we would be richer for his desire to experience the world, and his passion for sharing those stories with us.

 

Appendix A – Selected journalists who blog

Christopher Allbritton – Back to Iraq
Paul Andrews – The Paul Wall
Cory Doctorow – bOINGbOING
Jonathan Dube – The Weblog Blog
JD Lasica – JD’s New Media Musings
Peter Maass – Peter Maass
Rebecca MacKinnon – Techjournalism
Josh Marshall – Talking Points Memo
Steve Olafson – The Brazosport News
Tim Porter – First Draft
Jay Rosen – PressThink
Andrew Sullivan – Daily Dish

 

Appendix B – Selected media blogs

Chicago Tribune – Eric Zorn’s Notebook
Christian Science Monitor – ScitechBlog
The Dallas Morning News – Opinion
dotJournalism – Guy Clapperton
Guardian – The Weblog
Minnesota Public Radio – The Blogging of the President: 2004
MSNBC – Altercation
The New Republic – &c.
The New York Times – Times on the Trail
Poynteronline – E-Media Tidbits
Poynteronline – Romenesko
The Providence Journal – Subterranean Homepage News
Sacramento Bee – California Insider
Salon.com – Scott Rosenberg’s Links & Comment
Slate – kausfiles

 

Notes:

1 The ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award, at The Bloggies weblog awards, is for ‘webloggers who have been blogging at least since October 1, 2000′.

2 Opinions on who coined the term weblog vary, but Peter Merholz first used the term blog in May 1999, when he decided to pronounce the word wee-blog, which was then shortened simply to blog. In August 1999 Pyra Labs released the Blogger software, ‘And with that, the use of “blog” grew with the tool’s success.’

3 You should be warned that, while all of these reports are available online, it is one large PDF file, which is slow to download for anyone with a dial-up connection.

4 While an increasing number of newspapers are now running blogs from their websites, maintained by journalists on their staff, it should be noted that former reporter Steve Olafson was fired from the Houston Chronicle for running a personal blog under a nom de plume. See Olafson, Steve. 2003. ‘A Reporter is Fired for Writing a Weblog’, in Nieman Reports, Fall 2003, pp. 91-92.

5 For more information on Salam Pax (not his real name), the ‘Baghdad Blogger’, see McCarthy, Rory (2003). ‘Salam’s story’, Guardian, 30 May, and Maass, Peter (2003). ‘Salam Pax is Real’, Slate, 2 June.

For a detailed description of weblogs and their history, see Blood, Rebecca. 2000. ‘Weblogs: A history and perspective’, Rebecca’s Pocket, 7 September 2000.

6 For further information on participatory journalism, see Lasica, JD (2003). ‘What is Participatory Journalism?’, Online Journalism Review, 7 August.

7 For an examination of ‘the public’, and shifting ‘terms of authority’ in the media, see Rosen, Jay (2003). ‘Emerging Alternatives: Terms of Authority’, Columbia Journalism Review, Issue 5, September/October.

8 For a bibliography and archive of Glass’s articles, see McGinnis, Rick. 2003. ‘A Tissue of Lies: The Stephen R Glass Index’.

9 Since then, on 15 March 2004, journalist Paul Andrews noticed an error in reporting in The New York Times that he recorded on his blog. He came to the conclusion that ‘The fact that this sailed through the editorial chain at The New York Times makes me think the paper needs to analyze how it handles fact-checking.’

For instances in which bloggers have played an unofficial watchdog role to institutional media, resulting in dismissals and policy changes, see Glaser, Mark (2004). ‘To Their Surprise, Bloggers Are Force for Change in Big Media’, Online Journalism Review, 26 May.

10 While it may be a marketing ploy for the legal industry, attorney Michael Rothberg cautions that even bloggers should consider getting libel coverage, which ‘is a lot like insuring your house against a fire. The odds you’ll ever need to use the policy are low, but the consequences of not having it when you need it can be catastrophic.’ See Rothberg, Michael (2004). ‘Online Publishing Risks Create Need for Libel Insurance’, Online Journalism Review, 20 February.

Mark Thompson also outlines some controversial potential lawsuits, and novel approaches that bloggers have taken to avoid them. See Mark Thompson (2004). ‘Law Offers Internet Publishers Scant Guidance on Libel’, Online Journalism Review, 16 June.

11 While most of the reviews on Amazon are positive, it is worth noting one reader’s comments that ‘Salam Pax started out well. Then he got commercialized… I’d love to tune back in years from now after he’s been forgotten, to see if he returned to writing from the heart.’

12 Anecdotal evidence, through email communication, suggests that there was relatively little coverage in the US media of WSSD, and the broadest window available to US residents on the event was through online reporting. According to academics Hamilton and Jenner of Louisiana State University: ‘The post-Cold War era has seen… greater declines in… the print space and broadcast time devoted to international news (except during crises).’ See Hamilton, John Maxwell & Jenner, Eric (2003). ‘The New Foreign Correspondence’, Foreign Affairs, September/October.

13 It should be noted, however, that of the 20 questions given to him afterwards by the Poynter Institute – to see how informed he had kept, for which he scored 12/20 – almost all of them concerned US news. It would be interesting to know how his knowledge of international news differed from reading blogs, to relying on mainstream US media.

In his Time magazine article of 21 June, Lev Grossman also seems to be missing the point, when he writes: ‘blogs are America thinking out loud’ and ‘If I read only those of my choice, precisely tuned to my political biases and you read only yours, we could end up a nation of political solipsists.’ The article examines blogs from a very narrow ‘national’ perspective, missing their revolutionary ability to cross borders.

14 Hamilton and Jenner suggest that ‘From news services to “blogs,” the Internet has revolutionized the international news market – opening it up to a broader and more active audience. Such technological innovations are rapidly changing the way people produce and consume news, making the traditional model of foreign correspondence obsolete.’

15 For a detailed description of Granta magazine, and its history, see Bennetts, Louise (2003). ‘A Magazine for All Seasons’, journalism.co.za, May.

16 Marcy Wheeler has also compared blogs to the feuilleton, which is ‘both a section of the newspaper and the journalistic/literary form appearing in that section’. In the nineteenth century, when Napoleon ‘designated… a whole range of political issues that papers couldn’t touch… Le Journal des Débats devised a way to continue to critique Napoleon by separating off the bottom third of the page with a thick rule, calling the space under the line the feuilleton, and publishing “non-political” material therein. But the non-political label was just a ruse…’ See Wheeler, Marcy (2004). ‘Blogging in the Nineteenth Century’, The Blogging of the President: 2004, 19 March.

17 For examples of the New Journalism, see Woolf, T. & Johnson, EW (eds) (1973). The New Journalism. New York: Harper & Row.

18 Mark Thompson examined the status of online journalists with regard to press passes in the US, in his article ‘New Media Often Takes Back Seat to Old Media on Press Credentials’, in the Online Journalism Review, in April 2004.

In June 2004 there has been more examination and coverage about this in the US media, since ‘A handful of scribes publishing in a newer medium will join the thousands of newspaper, magazine and broadcast journalists at this summer’s political conventions.’ One of these ‘scribes’ is Markos Moulitsas Zuniga of Daily Kos, one of the most popular political blogs. See Anick Jesdanun (2004). ‘Bloggers to Attend Political Convention’, Yahoo! News 20 June.

There are also a few dedicated blogs established specifically to monitor the 2004 US Presidential election. See Minnesota Public Radio’s The Blogging of the President: 2004, and The New York Times’s Times on the Trail. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Walter Mears, will be coming out of retirement temporarily, to run a blog for Associated Press for the duration of the conventions.

 

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