Boom to Bust? Blogging: the Good, the Bad, and the Inevitable

In class we have been asked to discuss the state of blogging in America and citizen journalism

BLOGGING

 Many have already made the sign of the cross and pulled their virtual plugs on their own blogs. Some, who have had a career in the heyday of blogging say, “the party’s over.”  Words like passe’, tired, overdone, inconsequential, and old-school are bantered about.  So what do I think of the state of blogging?

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LET ME CUT TO THE CHASE …Unusual for me, I know!

Blogging is not dead.  Like every new media, it has been buffeted about by the drastic changes created by advances in technology.  We often forget that digital media is still young. Why, it seems like only yesterday when text-only chat rooms were the height of technology.

People love to try something new.  New hobbies, clothing, hair styles, restaurants, bars, fad diets……need I go on?  When we become obsessed with something, its popularity soars, and everyone jumps on the band wagon.  And just like the treadmill that gets the first 100 miles on it only to become a clothes hanger, some digital media suffers the same fate.

Within a few short years, the digital landscape has seen drastic changes.  Every new digital platform takes the best of what’s popular and adds to it, creating a whole new “shiny toy” for the voracious consumers of the Internet.  Some media holds its own by morphing and improving, but many carcasses line the virtual road to success.

WHY BLOGGING WENT BALLISTIC

Blogging became a space where everyone could be heard. Blogging was a new vehicle for free expression.  Everyone could find an audience on the Internet.  In the beginning bloom of blogging everyone from your little brother to great aunt Tilly were pouring their souls out on the Internet.053105Cat Incredible amounts of stuff” was generated without rhyme or reason. In the digital world,  where things are free from the confines of the traditional media rules, the users have to sort everything out. They decide what to do, how to do it, and when to change. The comment fields provide instant feedback of what’s working and what’s not. For a while, Blogging was truly a work in progress!

I’M REMINDED OF THE CB RADIO…yes, grandpa is reminiscing again.

When I was a child back in the dark ages, the CB radio craze hit with a vengeance in the 1970s.  The CB  was invented in the 1940s. They became very popular with businesses; notably the trucking industry. In the late 1960s, the CB’s size and price shrunk considerably, making it available to the general public for the first time.

CB_Drivers_On_the_Move

CB radios, like  new new media, exploded into popularity, were enjoyed by a large portion of the population, and then diminished in usage when the “fad” was over. When you consider the multitude of options in the digital world to capture someone’s attention, it’s no surprise that blogging really caught fire and then faded down to embers. But the embers still burn bright. Blogging has changed along the way, and it has survived.

THE PROFESSIONALS RECLAIM THEIR OWN

Traditional websites certainly saw the potential of blogs as did celebrities, corporations, traditional media, and businesses. Professional communicators have improved upon the blog format and effectively reclaimed their dominance over the well written word. They have also embraced more concise writing combined with visuals, hypertext and info-graphics. Everyday bloggers certainly have not gone away. There are phalanxes of amateurs doing fantastic work on their own, but many have moved onto other platforms that offer quicker, easier forms of expression.  Micro- blogging (Twitter), photos (Instagram), and videos (YouTube) are just a few examples of the “new popular”.

The numbers say blogging is losing its steam.  I say lower numbers mean the fad is over and the best blogs remain as a strong form of personal and professional expression. The form has melded into the fabric of the web, changing and expanding into new areas.  While it may be naive to say the blog will live on forever, I do believe it will continue to thrive for many years to come.

CITIZEN JOURNALISTS

The term citizen journalist  is a phrase used to describe everyday people doing the job of traditional journalists. One drawback to the Internet is everyone can make their pages, blogs, and websites appear legitimate and professional  This can obfuscate the lack of quality in the content – and here is where two worlds collide.

Professional journalist and citizen journalists have a strangely antagonistic, yet symbiotic relationship. Within seconds, world events appear on multiple digital platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Some argue that, at times, these untrained citizen journalist may supply an incomplete story based on opinion or worse, pass along erroneous information. The professionals act quickly too, but have the responsibility to create a fair and accurate portrayal in their story. Citizen journalists have no such limitations.

journalism_citizen

The phrase itself creates confusion. The two words seem diametrically opposed. Everyone is automatically a citizen from the moment of birth. It’s a description requiring nothing more than existence. The word journalists evokes the image of a professional who writes for a living. “Journalist” evokes the idea that this person has training, seeks truth, and cares about maintaining a reputation as an accurate communicator

Citizen journalist implies a person with no training, but a high skill set and standards of fairness. Yeah….not always the case. Remember, a citizen journalist is an untrained observer who may have a vested interest in portraying an event in a biased way.

Citizen journalists ( sometimes termed the fifth estate) are valuable, unfiltered voices of the people. Yet, I’m reminded of the old saying, “opinions are like (fill in the blank with your favorite comparative), everybody has one.” Citizen journalists can share events instantaneously, but news seekers are still drawn to the professional stories. When I see something  interesting on social media, I immediately seek more information on trusted media sites. Well-written stories create conversations and encourage critical thinking. The stories crafted by the professional journalists provide a cohesive balance to the overwhelming information that’s posted, tweeted, and blogged.

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