A Nation of Bloggers: Good or Bad?

If we could push a button, blink an eye, click a mouse (swipe an iPad) and return to a world of managed media (or at least a clear demarcation between proper news and citizen scribbling) would you do it? Steve Jobs says he doesn’t want a “nation of bloggers” rather something with “editorial oversight”. I…

If we could push a button, blink an eye, click a mouse (swipe an iPad) and return to a world of managed media (or at least a clear demarcation between proper news and citizen scribbling) would you do it? Steve Jobs says he doesn’t want a “nation of bloggers” rather something with “editorial oversight”. I suspect that Koehler might also prefer editorial oversight – given that he just quit because bloggers picked up on a story that mainstream media missed.

Today Steve Jobs said:

7:01 pm: What does the iPad mean for the publishing industry, Kara asks. Is it the savior that some are touting it as?

“I don’t want us to see us descend into a nation of bloggers,” says Jobs. “I think we need editorial oversight now more than ever. Anything we can do to help newspapers find new ways of expression that will help them get paid, I am all for.” (all things digital)

Coincidentally the German President Koehler resigned today:

Stung by the criticism and saying that he had been misunderstood, and to general surprise, the popular Koehler quit as Germany’s head of state.

But the offending interview had initially been ignored by the mainstream media and would have been forgotten had a few eagle-eyed bloggers not picked up on what the 67-year-old had said.

But the bloggers, including 20-year-old student called Jonas Schaible who writes on http://beim-wort-genommen.de, and Stefan Graunke on www.unpolitik.de, did not believe for a moment that they were at the start of something big.

And they still don’t.

“I have refused to give interviews because I don’t see myself at the head of a movement, just part of a network,” Graunke said on his blog on Wednesday.

“I didn’t topple Horst Koehler … And nor was it all the bloggers in Germany. To do something like that the blogosphere’s influence is too small,” Schaible said.

“A blogger with 1,000 readers per month topples a president? That sounds good, sure, but seriously, who believes it?”

But perhaps they are being too modest.

“It was Jonas Schaible who alerted us to Koehler’s controversial comments by writing on his blog and twittering to the editorial staff. Thank you,” said Kirsten Haake, a journalist on the website of the prestigious Die Zeit weekly.

Jan-Hinrik Schmidt, a media expert at Hamburg University, said that ultimately, it wasn’t the Internet that brought down the president.

“But what is interesting is the exchange between blogs and established media, showing that a forgotten issue can come back, and that journalists’ mistakes … can be rectified,” Schmidt told AFP.

“The blogosphere has become part of public opinion.”

Blogs are increasing in importance, “not because they want to to challenge established media, but because classic journalism is less and less capable of achieving its mission alone,” Graunke said.

“It’s just that with more eyes, we see better.”

(full story on Yahoo)

I think Steve Jobs views have more to do with his need to curate and control every element of branding and image than a full understanding of the “editorial oversight” that the masses provide.

What do you think? A nation of bloggers is a good thing or no?

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  1. I think a nation of bloggers/citizen journalists/hyperlocals/community news or whatever anyone wants to call them is a good thing because it gives traditional media extra eyes, eyes they didn’t have a few years ago to cover all the issues happening around us. There is a reason why CNN bought Ireport, and allvoices is becoming popular in the USA, and just a few days ago New Voices invested thousands of dollars in 9 community news websites in the USA as well. Unfortunately Australia is always a behind with the rest of the world but we will catch up. It would be nice to see traditional media and social media working together to provide communities with information and news we really want to hear about. I’ll be waiting for that day. 🙂

  2. Easy answer — Steve Jobs can make money directly off editorial publishing — bloggers not so much. Steve is an iconic and inspirational leader and people follow his comments — but let’s remember, he is not Ghandhi, he is a capitalist. Which is fine — just remember where he is coming from.

  3. Let’s be honest, editorial control is important – especially in terms of fact checking, making sure language is used in a way that communicates information well and without confusion, and in terms of setting agendas about what is worth covering. It is easy to be cynical about this because traditional media outlets haven’t always done it well. News, and what we might consider ‘newsworthy’, is quite time sensitive and it seems lately it has become more important to be first than to be accurate. [I mean it’s one thing to have two stories ready to go depending on who wins MasterChef Australia, it is another entirely to have made up quotations from the winner commending the loser… especially when the wrong story goes ‘live’ on a certain news website. Publishing the wrong article by mistake is embarrassing, but making up quotations that clearly never happened is frankly disturbing. Where was the editorial guidance there?]

    I would love to see a nation of bloggers. Because blogging is a technology, not a genre. It isn’t just about news and politics, it’s about whatever the author wants it to be about. I would love to see my grandmother share her recipes on a blog. I would love to see my nephew share his Star Wars fandom on a blog. I love reading Cynthia Harrison’s blog about her writing career. I love reading Annabel Astbury’s EduFutures blog. I love reading Cori’s blog about life as a newly single mother. People have experiences and passions that might not necessarily make good 30 second sound grabs but are still deeply fascinating to behold. The constraints of blogging are different to traditional media, and the ability to opt in and opt out as you wish means you can be highly specialised, you don’t have to ‘broadcast’ to middle America or whatever.

    1. And I always … nearly always… appreciate the editorial oversight you and other commenters bring to my articles. As finicky as they are, as broad as they are, I’m a better writer and blogger because of it.
      Process journalism (large group, public edits) vs product journalism (small group, private edits)?

  4. Disclaimer – I work in PR, one of the industries behind journalism, which has been affected the most by this change. Thus I have a vested interest in this post.

    I think your post title poses an interesting question. There are certainly no shortages of PR people that wish we could return to a world of managed media. Though I believe the question is redundant.

    There have been enormous advantages by lowering the publishing and in turn influence thresholds, however it would be difficult to argue nothing has been lost. Has the good outweighed the bad? In my opinion without doubt. To what degree, I would argue enormously, but others may disagree.

    The reality is that now people have been given the platforms to easily share their voice, they will not give it up. Huge numbers have adopted and use social platforms to create content and infinitely more consume content through these platforms. People like social media.

    Social media media is here to stay. No matter how many media moguls, journalists or PR people wish it wouldn’t.

    A nation of bloggers and Facebook status updates and Tweeters is the reality. Thus let’s not focus on whether this is good or bad and move on. The clever people are already working out how to make the most of it.

    Though Laurel I have a feeling that is your position too. You just know how to write controversial headlines! 😉

  5. I think blogs are a great addition to the community. They do not replace full time reporters however. On some specialized topics and to an amazing degree on a some blogs, they go even further that traditional reporters. However, by and large the in depth coverage that media CAN do (but honestly rarely does) is not replaced for the most part by blogers.

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