Do Blogs Have an Agenda?
The California Journalism Awards presented by the Center for California Studies opened discussion pertaining to blogs, observing, “Do blogs have an agenda?” It was suggested that blogs are ‘more opinionated’ and that, ‘it’s going back to it’s journalism roots.’ “Everyone has an agenda, “shares David Watts Barton, editor of the Sacramento Bee, adding that everyone also wants to have a blog.
“Some blogs are tied in with a political party,” stated Jon Ortiz, author of ‘The State Worker’ and journalist at the Sacramento Bee, “blogs push us back to engagement and that can get ugly,” responding to a comment that Flash Report blogs exist to promote an agenda, further noting that some bloggers are paid to promote party platforms under the guise of the ‘opinion’ expressed by the blogger. This was a point of concern for the panel.
Kimberly Nalder, Professor of Government at California State University Sacramento, lamented that most of the population does not think in terms of partisan and non-partisan positions and cannot distinguish between liberal and non-liberal views. Further concern was expressed by Molly Dugan, Professor of Communication Studies at CSU Sacramento. “Opinions are entertaining. Young people want to be entertained. For the ‘under 30 crowd’ is not about being partisan, it’s about entertainment.” The panel continued noting examples of students referencing blog statements as credible journalism sources comparable to the ‘Times’ or the Sacramento Bee.
Addressing students lack of differentiation between the credibility of blogs vs. newspapers, the panel was asked if a watchdog site was needed to oversee blogs and/or whether blogs should be required to state their agenda. That discussion was quickly put to rest by Barton who simply said, “it’s too complicated.”
Regarding whether blogs/bloggers should have credentials, Barton stated that many professional journalists did not attend journalism school (including himself) and some go on to win Pulitzer Prizes. He emphasized that it’s more of a calling than a profession and getting a degree is not a requirement. Barton was quick to mention Matt Drudge (Drudge Report) whom no one knew, nor credentialed, notwithstanding is a leading force of information.
Concluding that to blog you have to ‘love what you’re writing about. Blogging will consume you…it’s not wishy-washy.’ To be sure, blogs have an agenda in the storytelling arena – partisan or non-partisan, fact or opinion – or a bit of both. Blogs are web logs placed in the fire, fueled by the art of communication.
(The panel discussion aired Sunday, May 29, 2011 on Channel 35)