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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Can the Blogosphere Report Better Than the MSM?

Check out Patrick Ruffini's excellent discussion of the Blogosphere's reporting capabilities - or more accurately, the lack of such skills. I think Patrick underestimates the reporting power demonstrated by the blog leaders in Rathergate such as Littlegreenfootballs.com and Powerline.com, as they advanced the story of the fake Bush National Guard memos.

But Ruffini is right in noting that the Blogosphere's strengths presently reside in the context of a commentariat rather than a formal reporting corps. His recent discovery of South Korea's OhMyNews.com, which puts thousands of readers to work as reporters and editors, suggests to Ruffini a possible model for a reporting Blogosphere:

"I also like the strong reporting component that OhmyNews brings, because it would bring a focus currently missing in the blogosphere. The fact is that very rarely do we get beyond scrutinizing secondary sources. Too few people are doing with Sound Politics is doing in the Washington recount, and that is looking at the actual results, talking directly to officials, and incorporating reports from the ground. While a few of us may do more serious gumshoe work than Dana Milbank on any given day, most of us still rely on links to mainstream news organizations for most of our material."

I do wonder about the survivability of the OhMyNews model to the lawyer-happy U.S. market, thanks to the South Korean organization's lack of a systematic fact-checking capability. You can read an interesting analysis of OhMyNews in Dan Gillmor's "We the Media" here. See especially pages 125-129.

But something not unlike OhMyNews is clearly in the offing as the Blogosphere and the other new media of the 21st century converge and evolve. We just don't know yet much about exactly how it's going to look. Meanwhile, give Patrick's post a full read.