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This post will draw upon lecture content as well as readings from Week 4. The question to be discussed is as follows: Russell (et al.) compares elite media and institutions with bloggers and ponders the following question: “Do bloggers, with their editorial independence, collaborative structure and merit-based popularity more effectively inform the public?” (Reader, page 136). Do you agree? Use examples to illustrate your point of view.

While it’s true that mainstream media is not the only source of information, I still hold that mainstream media still more effectively informs.

In recent years with easy-to-use blogging tools like WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, and even Tumblr, mainstream media institutions have lost audience, mostly the generation who grew up with technology.

Russell, Ito, Richmond, and Tuters wrote that this occurrence is an unavoidable side-effect of the need for freedom of speech. In a society whereby only mainstream media producers get their views published, the average citizen is sick of this constraint and turns to blogging.

As discussed here and here, anyone with Internet and basic computer and writing skills can set up a blog.

Beside these obvious benefits, the blogger acquires “editorial independence”, through “collaborative structure” and “merit-based popularity”, which serve to inform and educate with information that may be an exposé of mainstream media news or a new news angle (Russell et al., 2008, p. 67).

Bloggers generally don’t have to answer to any higher management. An example is A Disgruntled Republican. He criticises the US government openly and is a prime example of how freedom of speech have led to a shared sense of community and merit-based popularity which is evident by this blog’s position on a list of best political blogs.

Another political blog is The Temasek Review. It’s an example which informs publics more effectively than state-run media simply it has editorial independence to publish news that wouldn’t be published in mainstream media i.e. news about Opposition parties, criticisms of the government, analysis of policies, etc. Despite attempts to shut this website down, it’s still continuing due to public donations, and ongoing support from netizens who want “an alternative to SPH” which is pro-government (Tan, 2011).

While such websites are relatively credible, there’re also blogs with inaccurate and untrustworthy information. However, some experts still believe that blogging is best. Andrew Nachison, Director of the Media Center, a US-based think-tank believes “blogs have become independent sources for images and ideas that circumvent traditional sources of news and information” (Belo, 2004).

The correct phrase to use in describing this phenomenon is “transition” (Belo, 2004). While it’s true that mainstream media has lost some potency, impartial reporting, the hallmark of traditional media is still not strong in blogs due to editorial independence. This leads to serious consequences like spreading incorrect information which is made more severe by the Internet’s dissemination speed.

Tthe advent of mainstream media blogs threaten independent blogs. For one, mainstream media blogs are perceived to be more credible. Secondly, teams of newsmakers behind the production of mainstream media blogs (and also in top independent blogs) show that manpower is necessary for the formation of good news (Owyang, 2008). Also, mainstream media blogs are still foremost in producing “deep, multi-source digs into a particular topic” (Sullivan, 2008). Sullivan cites these blogs for their insight:

1. Google and China

2. Google and USA

Thirdly, the lines between mainstream media and netizens blur, “mainstream media rejoins the people”, resulting in a completely different medium (Associated Press, 2006; Owyang, 2008).

As a Pew Research Centre paper found, blogs and mainstream media “embrace different agendas’ (Pew Research Centre, 2010). Blogs were also found to rely heavily on mainstream media information. 90% of blogs use mainstream media sources; 80% of blogs linked stories coming exclusively from major media outlets like BBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post (Pew Research Centre, 2010).

Hence the future lies in mainstream media blogs which combine credibility, budget, and freedom. I hold that mainstream media still more effectively inform the masses.

References

A Disgruntled Republican. 2011, viewed 24 April 2011.

Associated Press. 2006, Bloggers Join Mainstream’, Wired, viewed 24 April 2011.

Auletta, K. 2008, ‘The Search Party: Google squares off with its Capitol Hill critics’, New Yorker, viewed 24 April 2011.

Belo, R. 2004, ‘Blogs take on the mainstream’, BBC News, viewed 24 April 2011.

Blog Catalogue. 2010, ‘Politics by Award Winning Independent Political Bloggers in their Blogs’, BlogCatalogue, viewed 24 April 2011.

Owyang, J. 2008, ‘How Popular Blogs and Mainstream Media Appear The Same’, Web Strategist, viewed 24 April 2011.

Pew Research Centre. 2010, ‘New Media, Old Media: How Blogs and Social Media Agendas Relate and Differ from Traditional Press’, Pew Research Centre Publications, viewed 24 April 2011.

Russell, A. Ito, M., Richmond, T., & Tuters, M. 2008, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, Networked Publics, ed. K. Varnelis, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, pp. 43 – 76.

Sullivan, D. 2008, ‘Blogs & Mainstream Media: We Can & Do Get Along’, Daggle, viewed 24 April 2011.

Tan, A. 2011, Ex-Singaporean sponsored an additional server for The Temasek Review’, The Temasek Review, viewed 24 April 2011.

The Temasek Review. 2011, viewed 24 April 2011.

Thompson, C. 2006, ‘Google’s China Problem (and China’s Google Problem)’, The New York Times, viewed 24 April 2011.