Before I started working on a book on blogs (BLOGWARS) almost all my research was on photojournalism and its famous icons and mediated imagery of other kinds. Obviously it is of great interest to me that blogging has driven the great controversy over visual coverage of the Israeli-Hezbollah war. That prompted me to write my “Photojournalism in Crisis” essay for Editor&Publisher which I posted on here at PBB and was picked up my many blogs.
E&P EDITOR DEFENDS WAR PHOTOGRAPHY
Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor&Publisher has published a major “DEFENSE OF WAR PHOTOGRAPHERS” against attacks by bloggers. (See Part I and Part II). Very much worth reading in counterpoint to my original E&P piece as well.
BLOGS AND THE MYSTERIOUS AMBULANCE INCIDENT
This is an important post—perhaps when a future history of blogs is written “The Red Cross Ambulance Incident” will be considered a landmark of the genre. Certainly it moves forward the great “fauxtography” debate, but more than that it helps legitimize bloggers as people who both comment upon and create media content.
As noted here in PBB, once upon a time, Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, in one of a series of professional dismissals of bloggers, summed up their contribution to the information society with the following: “Bloggers recycle and chew on the news. That’s not bad. But it’s not enough.”
Well, remember Perlmutter’s rule on blogging—you can find a thousand blogs to support any generalization about blogging. It is true that, according to one study and lots of blog reading by me and my students, about half of blog posts make reference to news items that have appeared in newspapers, television, and so on. But in the short time since Keller made his comment, his paper and others have “blogged up,” especially on their Web sites. Also many bloggers are many media and political elites. In December 2005, Keller’s Times started creating blogs for some of its reporters. News organizations send out calls to “on-the scene-bloggers” (with cell phones) when breaking news occurs, as was the case after the London Bombings–what Steven Livingston calls the “Nokia Effect.”*
But “chew” implies adding nothing (but spit) to the original product. Clearly, though, bloggers like “Zombie” (and many of his ideological counterparts of the left as well) don’t just find a political datum and run to tell us about it. They help seek out knowledge and organize it, create cross-links, and uncover and present data and interpretations that we might have never otherwise found. Blog commenters add to the process through “you might want to also look at” contributions to threads of discussion and debate.
Of course many people in the past and present–like, say, me–devote many hours to studying media content in depth. I find it hard to believe, however, that in the pre-blog media system the kind of original analysis displayed by Zombie would have penetrated past an academic article or a newsroom discussion. Again, it is not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with the Zombies of the bloglands, but whether or not the marketplace of ideas is enriched. Cleary, it is: read, think, create your own “report.”
And, of course, blogmedia spills now regularly into big media–the Zombie report makes Fox News.
*Steve Livingston, “‘The ‘Nokia Effect,’” In David D. Perlmutter & John Hamilton, eds., How New Technology is Changing Foreign Affairs Reporting (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, [Under Review])
Originally posted August 24, 2006 at PolicyByBlog