Sunday, February 06, 2005

and what's more

Lord knows I don't want to revisit the blog vs journo yadda yet again. But Mr. BlindTangerineJones said something in a comment that merits a further something.

He said:
The real challenge for journalists--as opposed to news and content managers, which is not a job title self-respecting journalists generally wind up holding--is to tap into the ten gazillion bloggers writing about the ten gazillion things they saw with their own eyes that we didn't have a photographer at.

Which I will translate loosely to mean, blogs are best treated as primary sources - that can be used, as other primary sources are, by journos.

So, a blog can be a primary source.

Journalism is not primary, because it is mediated. It works on and with primary sources to produce something like news. When it works at all.

But journalism then turns to artifact. A real USian newspaper, like the one that I am subject to in my locality, will offer ads for glamorous $14.5 million homes on one side of a page. On the flip side: images of people coping with giant piles of garbage where they live.

The artifact, the journalistic object, is not journalism, though it might claim to "contain" it. The artifact has itself become a primary source that can be reflectively analyzed by, well, blogeurs among others.

So there's the play (I refuse to say dialectic). Journos use blogs, but because they (institutional media) are part of a corporate for-profit production process geared to popular consumption, their work enters the fabric of consumer artifice, phantasmagoric desire, and in turn become the subject of a new dimension of reflection via blogs. Then of course Journos can write about that.

Note: it is no longer the "content" of journalism that is the subject, once journalism has been tranformed into an object of reflection. (That would simply be public affairs blogging, which is by and large a minor subset of discursive onanism, as BTJ suggests.) No, it is journalism now taking on the status of primary source within an analytical or reflective mode in which it will be explored as everything but what it purports to be, i.e., a representation of reality.

This restless exchange, in which each mode, blog/journo, in turn exists first as primary source for, then as discourse mediated by, the other might have something to do with the evident inability to close off the question of their uneasy relationship, regardless of valiant efforts to do so.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jon Husband said...

This I think demonstrates and supports also your note that *content* is no longer the subject, and that journalism today more accurately reflects the corporate owner's blueprint and process used to contrust or erect the news. The primary sources are probably in there somewhere, but often are buried, re-defined or protected so as to not get in the way of the story.

There's something in this paragraph by Okrent that grates:

In the privacy of a one-on-one, off-camera interview, some print reporters will extract the information they're looking for with smiles and flattery; others will try pounding and intimidation. I know one magazine reporter who can switch between the two modes (and various others) so fluently you'd swear you were watching one of those one-man shows where a single actor plays a dozen roles. But both cajolery and aggression (not to mention their less glamorous teammates, patience, determination and shoe leather) are tactics informed, and justified, by a noble strategy: gathering the information that will enable readers to understand the events, personalities and issues of the day. So long as legal and ethical lines aren't breached, what matters is not the method of reporting but the results.I think it may be calling the portion I've emphasized a *noble strategy*, and suggesting it's not the method but the results that matter. Based on the last few years at least, one would be not wrong to wonder at the results, I suppose as well as the methods.

What I know is that as an interested person I use blogs to develop my sense of credible news much more than I use the NY Times today, compared to my consumption of that paper in times past.

2/06/2005 6:21 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

Mitch Ratcliffe citing Cory Doctorow on DRM and primary sources

2/07/2005 6:56 PM  

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