September 15, 2004

Distributed Journalism

Jesse Walker, managing editor of Reason, uses the Dan Rather dust-up as a basis to compare and contrast legacy news media with its younger, more boisterous cousins, the bloggers of the Internet. He concludes they are all part of a new news-gathering form, distributed journalism.

I like that concept. It bridges the hierarchy of traditional top-down journalism with the burgeoning abilities of the citizen-based"we media," but in an inclusive manner that recognizes both as part of what Walker calls the same ecosystem. He puts the failings of both in this context:

"Cyberspace offers many rewards, but it's also filled with partisan robots and knuckle-dragging bullies, with would-be reporters who don't understand the concept of evidence and would-be analysts who can't be bothered to comprehend the views they're critiquing, with would-be stylists who rely on clichés and would-be satirists without a trace of wit. Worse yet, it's filled with disinformation and fog, especially during a presidential campaign and a war. It's tempting to recoil from all the contradictory claims and to despair of ever learning the truth.

"But that disinformation and fog were there in the old days as well. They're just more obvious in this more transparent age, when the voice of Dan Rather is no longer enough to soothe a viewer's doubts. You're worried you'll never learn the whole truth? Welcome to the human condition, my friend." (Emphasis added.)

Welcome to journalism, my friends.

Posted by Tim Porter at September 15, 2004 11:45 AM