|Personal web blogs may challenge the news media,” said Chris Dean, coordinator of University of Missouri Extension’s Tri-Lakes TCRC in Reeds Spring, MO, back in October of 2003.
It was a bold prediction at the time, when blogs were just beginning to attract a more mainstream audience. At the time, blogging was just one more interesting trend to surface on the Internet and Dean’s prediction attracted no media coverage.
Now, as the CBS “memo gate” continues to expand, after being brought to light by bloggers, Dean’s prediction is taking on a whole new meaning.
"Bloggers have created a new communication tool as old as words but as new as the World-Wide Web," said Dean. “And the tool is proving to be very powerful.”
What is a blog?
Blogging is a grassroots movement (started in mid-1990s) of online diaries and commentary. Today, it has become an art form enabling anyone to publish an idea of interest on any topic.
In fact, blogging is a phenomenon that is changing the traditional approach to the dissemination of information. Some futurists even see blogging as a challenge to the news media.
"I read about one person who started a web blog two years ago with just a few hundred readers and after a few months of hard work, he is now reaching 250,000 readers a month and making profit," said Dean.
Circulation of this magnitude rivals traditional news and opinion magazines. It also attracts advertisers and their money. This growth also means blogs have become a huge presence in opinion journalism.
Journalists as bloggers
Blogging has become a form of journalism with bloggers taking on the role of columnist, reporter, analyst and publisher. The mainstream news media is started to show interest in blogging as a form of journalism.
In fact, there are several examples of traditional journalists who also have web blogs: Dan Gillmor of the San Jose Mercury News, Gael Cooper, a staff writer with the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Aaron Barnhart, television columnist for the Kansas City Star, just to name a few.
"Not everyone who keeps a journal is a journalist, but professional journalists often dismiss those who don't work in the traditional media. With the rise of the Internet, people don't always require or want the traditional communication filters of mainstream press," said Dean.
The four factors of the Weblog that are most attractive to writers are the creative freedom, instantaneity, interactivity and the lack of marketing constraints.