From the Department of AT LEAST WE’RE NOT BITTER

Bloggers offer no apologies over impact on news


Ana Marie Cox and others who maintain “blogs” were criticized after the Nov. 2 presidential election for posting exit polls throughout the day — a practice frowned upon in the mainstream media because the data could sway the outcome.

Well, if anything it exposed wild inaccuracy of exit polls. This is the first election really covered by blogs. It isn’t the first time exit polls have been used by media-types to sway elections.

“Things get picked up by bloggers that take awhile to get picked up by the mainstream media,” said Mark Glaser, a columnist for the Online Journalism Review who writes about Web logs. “Bloggers have to start from scratch in building trust.”

Glaser noted the importance of bloggers in tearing down CBS News’ election season story about President Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard. The constant barrage of questions and charges from the Web kept heat on the network until it admitted a mistake in relying on what turned out to be fake documents.

Mindy McAdams, a University of Florida journalism professor, applauded bloggers’ efforts but urged them to adhere to ethical standards held by mainstream journalists.

Actually, we should be adhering the ethical standards that should be held by mainstream journalists.

Right now the battle is blogs (and other online alternative news outlets) vs. Legacy Media. Unless Legacy Media makes major changes, it’s going to lose eventually. When it does, the resulting “power vacuum” will create an atmosphere where blogs become the mainstream, and at that point our ethical standards and our legitimacy will matter far, far more than it does today.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather see the blogosphere force Legacy Media to change for the better and remain later as a check-and-balance to a New Media than see Legacy Media destroyed utterly. That runs the risk of creating a news-free-for-all that’s the media equivalent of the post-USSR Balkans.

I’m not sure if Legacy Media has it in them, though.