Local Bloggers are Getting No Respect
by Matt McGee on Apr 13, 2009 in Industry
One thing I didn’t mention (purposely) in last night’s post about the NY Times article was the inclusion of a little jab directed at bloggers in general, and local bloggers specifically. You may have caught it near the end of the article:
One hurdle is the need for reliable, quality content. The information on many of these sites can still appear woefully incomplete. Crime reports on EveryBlock, for example, are short on details of what happened. Links to professionally written news articles on Outside.in are mixed with trivial and sometimes irrelevant blog posts.
That raises the question of what these hyperlocal sites will do if newspapers, a main source of credible information, go out of business. “They rely on pulling data from other sources, so they really can’t function if news organizations disappear,” said Steve Outing, who writes about online media for Editor & Publisher Online.
Inherent in those two paragraphs is this idea that there’s some kind of separation between so-called “professionally written news” and what local news blogs are doing. The Times writer, in the first paragraph, mentions that these are “trivial and sometimes irrelevant blog posts.”
This Just In: Professionally written news articles are also sometimes trivial and irrelevant. This isn’t just a blogging thing. But that’s an attitude that continues to thrive in some traditional media circles.
The JTA, a Jewish news organization, got itself in some hot water recently for sending out a fundraising letter that said this:
“Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitterers and non-professionals. Is this the best way for our future Jewish stories to be told and recorded?”
Yikes. That comment led to all kinds of backlash among Jewish bloggers and eventually led to an apology from the JTA. You can read more about the controversy at Forward.com.
All of this is to be expected to some degree. Local blogging is still in its infancy, despite the success of the big local blog networks (like Gothamist). And with traditional media on the decline, it’s natural that they’ll take potshots at one of the news sources that stands to replace them. But just because it’s expected, doesn’t make it okay. Local news bloggers need to stand up and show that they deserve respect as legitimate sources of local information.