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Why blogging is good for journalism January 14, 2010

Posted by friedgreenbananafish in Assignments, Journalism.
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We live in an information age.  For the first time in human history, we can communicate with people across the world as quickly as we could someone standing in the same room.  News that in the past would have taken days to reach us by mail, telegram, or messenger on horseback can now be accessed with a few key strokes and clicks of a mouse.

And the blogosphere is a large part to thank for that.  In fact, sometimes the citizen journalists can get out there faster — and give better reports — than the professional ones.

Take, for example, the recent 7.0 earthquake in Haiti.  It took Anderson Cooper, the first American television reporter on the ground, a full 17 hours to get there and start reporting.

But, a Christian missionary stationed in Haiti starting blogging about the damage shortly after it began.

And freelance journalist Michael Deibert posted actual video of the aftermath on his personal blog 10 hours later.

But the professionals eventually caught up.  Jason Leopold, Deputy Managing Editor at Truthout.org, began posting minute-by-minute commentary on the tragedy with links to other news organizations, relief agency press releases, and aid hotlines by 9:30 the morning after the earthquake.

A full half-hour before CNN got there.

Not only can the blogosphere be the first to report on breaking news, but it can even help make the news a bit more personal to media consumers than simply watching two anchors sitting behind a desk.

On Facebook, I discovered through a friend’s status update that a U92 alumni was creating quite a buzz in the blogosphere.  The Huffington Post tells the tale of Frank Thorp, a young American (West Virginian) living in Haiti.  He was six hours away from the capital of Port-au-Prince when he got a call from his wife — she was trapped under the rubble of their house.  He made the long trek back to the city and pulled her out brick-by-brick.  In the aftermath of this tragedy, he’s becoming something of a folk hero. 

As a viewer/news consumer, that personal connection I received through social networking and blogging hits me a lot harder emotionally than anything The Big Six could ever say.

The web is awash with amateur photos, video, and constant Twitter updates about the situation in Haiti.  With a simple search, you can be transported to the streets of Port-au-Prince, feeling the grief of mourning families, and watching the workers sifting through bodies.  

Even though it may frighten the traditionalists in this field, blogging is doing just what journalism was designed to do — to give the public detailed information as quickly as possible.

So isn’t that a good thing?

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