Blogging to Overcome Media Bias

The news has a bad habit of disseminating some stories with urgency, conveying a sense of national importance, only to over-report it for a couple of days and never speak of it again. The BP oil spill? The June 2008 midwest floods? Even Hurricane Katrina. These events affected many people and their surroundings, in some ways permanently. However, the average media consumer (read: drone) would struggle to remember such events shortly thereafter their prominence in the news cycle shortened.

 It is almost as if stories lose their novelty to the media outlets, as if the people in Iowa saw the billions of dollars in damage disappear over night or the people in Louisiana suddenly had their houses back six months after the fact. Even other stories fall victim to journalists who write and publish frenetically around the clock, only to be talked about a few weeks down the road, if ever again. That debt ceiling debate sure seems to pop in and out of the national eye. One week it’s the end of America as we know it, but the next week you don’t hear a word.

I think blogging can help fix this problem with today’s news stream by taking the topic of reporting out of the hands of executives strapped for resources and into the hands of the people who are affected most by prominent issues. News firms understandably operate under a lot of pressure to obtain viewers and sell papers; they have other motives than just reporting the news. That’s fine, but I think Americans need to stay up to date with the stories that matter. A nationally significant story one week should not leave their purview the next because ABC has moved on to what it thinks are bigger and better things. Although it is easy enough to watch the news everyday and forget about yesterday’s headline, I think inattention to the larger picture of  complex issues and reporting without consistency is a problem.

Blogging provides a spectacular opportunity for ordinary people to keep others caught up with the stories the media feel are no longer up to snuff for national coverage. Real people with a firsthand view of the issue are able to report to the rest of us, without needing a shiny desk, flashy jingle, or makeup artist. It is no longer the case that people rely on one source for their news. The advent of the blog permits it to be now covered by anyone anywhere. So while their story lost the 5 o’clock breaking news story last week, the people affected by the event, who didn’t see their problems disappear with the headline on Fox’s website, can keep the rest of the country posted on what is going on. Someone by the Gulf can blog about what the conditions are like from the spill, or a Habitat for Humanity worker can report on the natural disaster that struck his area a few months ago, which people are still recovering from.

Bloggers have the ability to allow us to skip the fanfare of media outlets and get to the bottom of what’s really happening. As long as bloggers report with high standards, one of the most important forms of writing, news coverage, can regain its commitment to stories and dedication to those affected most.

3 thoughts to “Blogging to Overcome Media Bias”

  1. Although I have a blog and my sister blogs and we’re blogging for class, I still have some sort of weird distrust and caution about blogging. I read a book called the Right to Privacy in high school and I became aware how little privacy we actually have on the internet even when we think we do, like on company internet servers. As a facebook user, I probably have already sold my privacy-soul to the devil.

    I think you raise good point that blogging can have a unique purpose in our society. It can be a more real force for social justice and outlet for truth than the media could ever provide. I also think you raised a great point about what news is missing. Would we know? Do we notice the stories that are not there because their deemed “not-important” enough? My roommate likes to comment how you only know when the pretty, young, white girls get kidnapped. I think that blogging could be a way to give the other stories and a the gaps in the news their day.

    The only question that I have about blogging-as-journalism, is what keeps bloggers honest? And how does a blogger build their credibility? Is it that hard? Can blogging be just as professional and accurate as the news?

  2. This post is really topical; recently, a court decided that a blogger did fall under her state’s shield laws because “bloggers are not journalists.” She was being sued by a company for slander and they were demanding that she reveal her source because she was so accurate, she had to have had inside information. I totally agree with you that bloggers can be journalists and fill slots that journalists have left behind, covering issues more in depth, over longer periods and giving them more intimate portrayals. It gives the people who want more information a place to go, rather than hoping that the 10:00 news can find time between an “in-depth” look at Whitney Houston before her death, gauging her mental state from her hand gestures and Newt Gringrich’s semi-open marriages. But people still have to make the effort to find that information and stay informed. There is so much information and it happens so quickly, in some ways more quickly than television. Rumors can in fact spread.

    Keeping bloggers honest is all about their readers, their venue and their own drive. Like Andrew Sullivan, his readers keep him honest; by linking, he gets more of a reputation and ties his credibility with other credible sources. In some ways, I think this process makes certain types of blogging more credible. Watch fox. They rarely ever give multiple perspectives- comments in blogging allow people to disagree point out factual information and give a fuller view, even if a few of them are always crazies. Fox doesn’t link to any other sources than their own websites. To one degree or another, most cable news and even network news is guilty of this. And not all blogs are reliable- but the ones that are certainly can fill the gaps “tradition” journalism has left behind.

  3. I like the idea of using blogging to get out a message about a certain topic and I agree with your point that the media does let go of significant events too easily. However, I agree with what Julia and Alicia said as well. Some bloggers are dishonest, and when someone blogs untruthful news, it could lead to something even more problematic than when the news pushes things to the side after the story loses its allure. If bloggers do post with high standards, like you state in your post, I think blogging about the news is a great idea. The question then becomes how many bloggers post with high standards.

    Another thing that is interesting to think about is how easy it is to keep a blog going and how accessible blogs are in comparison to the news. I’d have relatively no idea where to go to find posts from a reputable blogger today if someone asked me to do so. I know of one reputable blog off the top of my head, FreeDarko. FreeDarko blogged primarily about basketball and that blog was discontinued last year. Last year I had a “cultures of basketball” class and the main contributor to the FreeDarko blog actually came to visit. He told us in class that keeping his blog up was too arduous to continue, it took up too much time for such a minimal profit. He told us he was going to work for bigger companies and still blog about basketball in an effort to make more money. The takeaway I got from his story was that the more popular and influential media industries would eventually swallow up all of the good bloggers because they have one thing: Money. Should the bloggers allow things like this to happen? If they do, I have a hard time believing that what you said in your post will ever come true. Oh the influence of money in America!

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