By Christopher Glotfelty – Cougar News Contributor
Slate. Salon. The Huffington Post. Gawker Media. As online magazines and revenue-generating blogs become en vogue, the younger generation – the ones that have made this new media a formidable sensation – needs to remember the ethos and dependability of hard news.
It’s not so much a question of these writers’ credentials, which almost seems like an afterthought in this vast and wild Internet landscape; more so, it’s up to somebody – a governmental program, or even the bloggers themselves – to promote the ancient journalistic institutions.
There’s been a pervading sense within the blogger community over the last couple of years that they are the new opinion leaders. As far as influence over the younger generation is concerned, they are correct. However, what’s even more striking is that the older generation – the generation that grew up with newspapers and Dan Rather – is slowly consuming blogs and online magazines without realizing the power of these journalistic avenues.
The Huffington Post, though it’s become a venerated source of opinions, is essentially a blog. Tell some of its readership that, however, and they might spit in your face. The tides are shifting, but people who grew up on older media don’t want to know they are reading a “blog.” The word is treated like a profanity, a slur. Nevertheless, I guarantee any baby boomer has read one. It’s nearly impossible to avoid them – even newspapers and magazines have their own – when they’re not only relevant, but effective.
And that’s the scariest part, perhaps. As unhindered, in-your-face blogging replaces respectful, esoteric journalists, it’s no longer a question of how to avoid it, but how to embrace it. It just doesn’t have to be a double-armed, over the shoulders type of embrace – more like a one-armed strangle with a pat on the back. Despite what bloggers on the high-traffic websites think of their positions, readers need to keep them in check.
The good ones know they’re being watched, as they fill their posts with links and references. That’s how it should be, of course. But I propose a new criterion: promote hard news. I don’t mean by linking AP and Reuters – they already do that. I want new features on these websites highlighting some of the best journalism out there. It wouldn’t just be interesting, but it would be a chance for these new opinion leaders to give generous credit to their information – to where they got started.