On the Agenda

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Trends et la Mode dans la Media

First day of class -- always exciting. I'm taking Business French this semester, which I think will be fairly interesting. It's going to be a lot of vocabulary, but I think it will be helpful in the longrun -- especially if the whole point of me having the French major is to make the language useful to me once I get out into the real world. I also had enough time to eat an omelet this morning.
So I don't think I had really noticed how big this blog trend has gotten. I know we often discuss it at the newspaper I work for, and I know I've seen it on some new Web sites and everything, but it seems to be even more than that. I remember reading an article recently, I think it was for my international history class in high school, about how the different interfaces appearing in the media have shaped the way events are discussed and information is spread. I think it was from Foreign Affairs magazine, and it specifically mentioned the war in Iraq and a few other conflicts abroad. It talked about how the Web log has entirely transformed the idea of foreign reporting and had an example of this guy in Russia who was taken hostage in a movie theatre and set up a blog to let people know what was going on. No reporter could have gotten in there; no news company of any sort could have had that story.
I was messing around in the Washington Post website today (by the way, how about that British kid that made himself a millionaire by selling adds $1 per pixel on www.milliondollarhomepage.com???) and I noticed that next to each article they have this little billboard box that says "Who's Blogging." It has links to all these random people all over the world who have linked their blog to this article. For example, the article about the British ad entrepreneur has 14 blogs linked to it. I think it's impressive that publications like the Post want to connect their readers that much that they make and effort to say "Want to read more? Come over there and see what Joe Schmo has to say about it." It's like in "Miracle on 34th Street" when Macy's makes the books to tell their customers where to go to find what they want.
I think the Post, like any self-respecting publication, is really doing it for self-preservation. As much as I don't like to think about it, the print media is becoming somewhat of an endangered species. Those of us who depend on it for work also tend to depend on it for other things like entertainment and the perfect mate to a hot cup of coffee. However, I have to make the point that a bunch of tired journalists aren't going to be able to hold up the entirety of the print media industry on the paycheck that they give us. It's a bit of a vicious cycle -- but we do what we can.
Nevertheless, publications seem to think now that the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy is what is going to work best here, and I happen to agree. While the blog phenomenon does provide a bit of a threat to traditional news, it also provides a bit of a supplement. Ignoring technological advances in this industry is professional suicide, especially because when it all goes down and the paper copy of the Times is only good enough for an elite few, the newsroom will not be big enough for all of us. Of course blogging does open the world of journalism to nonprofessionals. And while those of us on the inside might have mixed feelings about this, there is little question that having more reporters in the world is going to make us more informed.

0 musings: