A new wave of “journalists” and “editiors” are the bloggers. Bloggers write about anything that is of their personal interest (Leshed & Kaye 2006).
While I agree that bloggers have their own editorial independence, collaborative structure, and merit-based popularity, I don’t necessarily agree that they are more effective in informing the public.
One online political blog with editorial independence in Singapore would be The Temasek Review. Singapore’s newspapers, when concerning politics, would usually have news about the party running the state, People’s Action Party. It has little news coverage regarding the opposition parties, such as Worker’s Party or Reform Party. However, The Temasek Review publishes news about the opposition parties, thus effectively informing the public on what actually goes on behind the political scene. This is important for voters, as they may not be able to receive all information they need to cast a vote during the general election. In this aspect, bloggers then are a more popular choice should the public need to be informed effectively.
Bloggers usually first hear about news from traditional media (Davis 2001). They then form their opinions, and talk about it. Without traditional media, one would not have that much access to current news and information. Furthermore, blogs are started by parties who feel the need to voice their opinions. Because opinions and emotions are usually involved (Leshed & Kaye 2006), and one can’t necessarily inform the public as effectively as they should because their writing is influenced by their thoughts.
Bloggers might not be popular based on merit, but instead on how witty they are. One example would be Hollywood blogger Perez Hilton, known for criticizing celebrities. He has the power to make or break someone else’s reputation. Isn’t it scary that our reputation is ours, yet, our reputation depends on other people to shape it? As Solove (2007) states, our reputation “reflects who we are”, and yet, “it is not solely our own creation”. As readers, we have to make sure that we know both sides of the story. If we just take the blogger’s points and disregard underlying issues, the blogger then has failed to inform the public effectively in any sense then.
Although most online editorials do not have gatekeepers, there are certain laws that prevent one from blogging his/her thoughts that come to mind (Niles 2010). This means that one is still bound to the law while blogging. In this case, the law acts as the invisible gate-keeper, and one might be unable to inform the public of issues that might be seen as sensitive.
Collaborations may also affect the way a blogger writes. The benefits of a sponsored product may be exaggerated just because the products are sponsored. This then does not effectively inform the public about the product itself.
Thus, I do not feel that bloggers are more effective in informing the public just because they may have their own collaborations and editorial independence. Both traditional media and interactive media have their strengths and weaknesses. However, unless we find the right balance, at the end of the day, we will still decide to trust traditional forms of media regarding credible news. It may be slower than the Internet, but it has been around for years, compared to the many blogs available online which may open for a day, and be closed down the next.
Lesheg, G & Kaye, J. J 2006, Understanding How Bloggers Feel: Recognizing Affect in Blog Posts, Montreal, Canada, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~jofish/writing/recognizing-bloggers-affect.pdf>.
Davis, R 2008, A Symbiotic Relationship Between Journalists and Bloggers, President and Fellows of Harvard College, United Kingdom, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://www.hks.harvard.edu/presspol/publications/papers/discussion_papers/d47_davis.pdf>.
Niles, R 2010, On the Internet, no one has to be a gatekeeper, but everyone can be, OJR: The Online Journalism Review, California, viewed 26 April 2011, <http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/robert/201008/1873/>.
Solove, D. (2007) ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us’, in The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 17-49.