Monday, August 29, 2005

Blazing New Ground? Maybe

During the Blog Business Summit, I heard Robert Scoble describe some aspects of blogging and had a sudden case of deja vu. It was journalism school all over again!

He, among others, talked about ethics, writing style, developing and maintaining an audience, all as if they were new concepts.

Yes, we have all heard the phrase "citizen journalist," and the power of the individual to reach the mass audience has never been greater than it is today.

This goes to the discussion of breaking down barriers. Publishing is now so cheap that the barrier to entry that companies like Hearst and the New York Times Company have lived on for so long is gone.

But it also means that instead of the journalist being trained and paid by journalistic organizations (and the skill being a primary source of income), they are untrained and paid by a corporation. In part I'm talking about the business bloggers, but also the personal bloggers and podcasters for whom this is a labor of love.

But it also eliminates the concept of objectivity, sort of. Robert Scoble mentioned that at times he has disagreed with his employer and blogged about it, but how far can he push that issue? That, to me, remains an open question. He described a "membrane" that he could push against. The more support he has internally the harder he can push against the membrane. It may snap back, but his supporters could hold him up. Interesting analogy.

Blogging is just part of the puzzle. The barrier to entry is also is coming down with radio and television. This is going to fundamentally change how people get their information, how they interact with it and how PR people help their clients get messages out. Everyone now has the ability to self publish.

It will also change who pays for the information that consumers receive, which raises the question: in whose best interest is it?

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