No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Can bloggers replace journalists?

by @ 10:45 on March 3, 2009. Filed under Press.

(H/T – Charlie Sykes)

In Sunday’s Washington Post, columnist Marc Fischer bemoans the loss of journalists in state capitals. While Fischer asserts that bloggers can’t replace them, instead of actually making a solid case for his thesis, he spends almost all of his column-inches pining for the good old days of ink-stained fingers in dark rooms in the Capitol buildings and making claims that are, for those that actually paid attention to the media, laughable.

Allow me to take a crack at the question. It actually needs to be split into two parts, as there are two types of journalists. Columnists are already by and large being successfully replaced by bloggers. I have been around the blogosphere and have read enough great columnists like the late Mike Royko and George Will to realize that it does take some journalistic skills and a few sources to be even somewhat successful. However, anybody who can rub two brain cells together has an opinion, and at the end of the day, a column is an opinion piece.

Beat journalism, on the other hand, requires a highly-specialized set of skills few people naturally have as well as time that, by and large, can only be gained by making beat journalism one’s full-time profession. Most bloggers do not have the mindset or the sources required to run down even most of the angles on any particular story.

That is not to say that there aren’t bloggers out there that can, at least in part, fill the role of a beat journalist. I have had the pleasure to call some of them friends, like Patrick Dorwin at Badger Blogger, Fred Dooley at Real Debate Wisconsin, Trent Seibert, and Jon Ham at Right Angles. In fact, Siebert and Ham are journalists who have made the full jump from journalism to blogging.

Theoretically, since there are more bloggers than classically-trained beat journalists, bloggers could cover more than the beat journalists can. While the time constraints limit almost all of the bloggers, that has to be weighed against the unfulfilled promise of “unbiased” reporting from the current crop of beat journalists. That makes the question of replacement far harder to answer.

To be honest, even though I’ve taken my fair share of shots at biased reporting, I don’t want to have to fully replace journalists. I use various news sources as launching points for my posts. I also know my limitations; despite having acquired a few sources and worked some events in a journalistic capacity, I do not know whether I could be a full-fledged journalist.

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