In the dark era that was known as the Internet boom in the late 1990’s, Internet entrepreneurs sold us a vision that never again would we have to leave our bedrooms. Instead, we’d wake, jump out of bed (remember it’s a vision, you don’t crawl grumpily from slumber in a vision..) turn on our PC, log on, do some work, order our shopping, connect with friends and pay some bills, all without having a shower.
Trillions of wasted dollars later we know this is rubbish. The vision was predicated on the premise that the Internet would destroy what went before. But just as Radio didn’t kill print, and TV didn’t kill Radio, the Internet supplements our existing media – it doesn’t supplant it.
In the same way, I fundamentally disagree that blogs or weblogs will replace traditional journalism. It will supplement it for sure, but it will not replace it. Full stop.
Although blogs are growing in popularity they still only reach a tiny proportion of the population. While they provide useful information and opinions, they are personal opinions with none of the ethics or objectivity that is inherent in journalism. I am a weblog fan, but we need perspective on this issue.
Dave Winer is a weblogging pioneer. His Scripting News weblog is extremely powerful in the weblog (and Search Engine) world. But his belief that weblogs are removing the need for journalists and specifically technology journalists is in my humble opinion misplaced.
This blog is created using the wonderful Radio software Dave created. I read his blog every day. But his blog itself, although very enjoyable and informative, is a great example of the inherent weakness of weblogs as a mainstream media.
He feels passionately about certain subjects and this agenda dictates much of the content of his weblog.
The vast volumes of information flowing around the Internet mean that people continue to need trusted sources to sift through what’s going on and providing some independent, objective views on events. That’s why we have journalists.
Weblogs are a fantastic media for opinions and there is no doubt that they will continue to become an increasingly important audience for PR professionals in every field. But it’s not supplanting journalism, it’s supplementing it.
You can read Dave’s back-and-forth debate on this topic with Jon Bonne of MSNBC here.
“Frankly, Iï¿½ve tired of techno-evangelical proclamations that one or another technology is so revolutionary it will destroy the old models. ” – Jon Bonne