Saturday, December 22, 2007

Leininger/Gotsch on New Media

I was glad to see the News Sentinel's Kevin Leininger at the New Media, New Rules event Thursday. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that he wrote a column about the event - it's always interesting to see the dynamic between blogs and traditional media. Much of what Leininger said makes sense but, in general, him and Nathan Gotsch are off-base about the premise of blogging.

To both, blogging is a medium for creating a respectable, perhaps even competitive alternative to traditional media. But this view of the blogosphere is too simplistic and Gotsch's approach of lecturing people on this "one size fits all" approach is probably a big reason why many people were left with a bad taste in their mouth.

The beauty of blogging, and the internet, is that it's whatever you want it to be. Contrary to Gotsch's opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with blogging about your dog. The blogosphere is truly a free market environment - readers can pick and choose what they want to read and they're not limited to 2 daily newspapers and/or news outlets. In fact readers can go a step further by creating a blog to discuss topics they feel might be getting overlooked. Not everybody strives to break the next big story. Many of us simply like to discuss politics and this medium gives a new group of friends where we can do that.

Leininger wrote speed is no substitute for accuracy, context, credibility, fairness and other standards of traditional journalism. Of course not, but who exactly is making the contrary argument? Traditional media have erected this straw man in order to justify their own work. But the truth is there wouldn't be a good political blogosphere without good traditional media. Also, whether they want to admit it or not, we can do things they can't and vice-versa, and it has absolutely nothing to do with accuracy, fairness, etc. If you don't meet basic credibility standards then readers will simply avoid your site.

At the end of the day there will always be somebody there to tell you the "best" way to do something because it's how they do it. But ideas, technology and consumers all evolve and the blogosphere is part of that evolution. Can it help candidates, or increase voter turnout or anything else politicians want to use it for? Certainly, but there's no roadmap to do that. Some people will be successful and others won't - welcome to Free Market Journalism...

15 comments:

scott spaulding said...

Good post.

Rachel said...

Funny, Jeff, how you the Democratic populist and me the liberal Democrat are both making the free market argument in the case of ideas.

Where are those free market Republicans when we need them?

Chris Hedges said...

I see that the first blog in Fort Wayne was created in 2005, according to the News-Sentinel.

I'd have to assume that there had to have been a blog or two in Fort Wayne before 2005. I even had a blog back in 2005 and I felt like I was late to the game.

Blogs help the news media -- I know I read more newspapers than I did in the past when the options were limited to whatever printed edition I had available. Instead of reading just one or two newspaper, the internet (and blogs pointing to newspapers) make it possible to read news from almost anyplace.

Newspapers need to figure out how to monetize their web outlets so that they can take advantage of traffic that visits their pages.

It also makes good economic sense for the traditional newspaper biz to try to figure out an electronic advertising model that works since newsprint is expensive and accounts for a great deal of the cost of running a newspaper.

DanT said...

The event was soiled when Dan Turkette stormed out of Nathan Gotsch's session. Turkette, who aligns himself with the GOP, frequently uses his blog to bash whomever he happens to find annoying. Therein lies the hypocrisy.

http://indianareason.blogspot.com/

Craig said...

I've never understood why Nathan Gotsch's opinion on anything matters. Seems like sort of a self-important BS artist to me, but what do I know? I'm just a former blogger.

Meliorate said...

It seems as if a lot of people (including Gotsch) have forgotten that blogging started with personal online "journals", diaries of everyday life and events put in textual form. Not all of us want to dedicate our blogs to specific idea but when it does come to plogs (political blogs), I think you summed it up when you said "there wouldn't be a good political blogosphere without good traditional media."

Joe Taylor
aTaylorMadeLife.com

Phil Marx said...

Dant,

I think that you are not making a fair comparison here. It is a fact that Dan Turkette is more brash than many bloggers. And when you visit his site, you know what to expect. Likewise, Nathan Gotsch or any other blogger has the right to behave however they wish to on their own site. Each blogger sets the tone for his or her own site. To complain about this is silly. If you don't like it, just leave their site.

But the event at the library was different. Dan Turkette was an invited guest of Nathan's that night. If you don't like someone don't invite them to your party, rather than inviting them to your home as a guest just so you can insult them in front of all your other guests.

Nathan could have said "There are differences of style among the various blogs. Some of them are more brash than others. I think Dan Turkette's site offers an example of this brashness, and I don't particularly care for that style. Evidently though, because of his high traffic, others might disagree with me."

Nathan would have made the same point, but without the rudeness. His message would have changed from "You're wrong!" to "I think you're wrong.", and that subtle difference would have benefited everyone at the forum that night.

What Nathan did was rude, and if he fails to offer a public apology to Dan (on Dan's own site), I think he will have defined himself in the same manner in which he attempted to define Dan Turkette.

Eric White said...

Jeff,

You summed up things up very nicely.

J Q Taxpayer said...

Right On Phil.

Robert Rouse said...

Actually, I started a blog in 2003, but never went anywhere with it. But it was after GWB was reelected in 2004 that I had second thoughts and started Left of Centrist in April 2005. When I started, there were no other blogs in the area that I could find.

However, you have to give Nathan credit for getting the ball rolling in Ft Wayne. His Blog Challenge brought a lot of new people into the "game".

That said, even though I've been at it longer and Nathan got more people involved, I don't believe anyone does a better job at local reporting on the blogs than Jeff. It is because of Jeff's dedication to local issues and politics that I decided to stay out of local politics for the most part this last election cycle.

Nathan is wrong about the use of blogs. A blog can be about whatever you want. If it makes people take the time to sit down and actually write something, be creative, then yes, writing about your dog can be a great thing.

There are no new rules - except the ones Nathan makes up for himself.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Thanks for the compliment Robert. It would be remiss for me not to mention that it was in fact you that got me writing my own posts as a guest contributor at Left Of Centrist...

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Jeff:

I agree 100% with your post in its entirety.

I think that blogs can be different things to different poeple and I agree with your interpretation, again...

Mike Sylvester

Kody Tinnel said...

Nicely stated Jeff.

de_tokeville said...

Not sure where the News-Sentinel gets the idea that the first blog in Fort Wayne was 2005. Especially since Nancy Nall had one in 2002-03 or so and they were trying to muzzle her and pretend that any word she wrote was their property and therefore subject to their editorial control. But it's not like the N-S has any institutional memory at this point, having let go anyone with half a brain who ever worked there.

gadfly said...

Speaking of Nancy Nall, Keith Schneider in his Mode Shift blog writes of the ultimate demise of "dead tree" print journalism. In this post, Mr. Schneider cites an essay written by Nancy about Nathan Gotch.

Turns out that she likes Nathan Gotch.

http://tinyurl.com/23kpml