CJR Tackles Weblogs

The current issue of Columbia Journalism Review offers what appears to be an excellent special package of stories on the current state of alternative media, “The New Alternatives.” Figuring prominently in this media scene are news weblogs. I’ve only just begun reading the series, but it looks pretty good, I’ll be blogging more on it later.

In the package’s lead story, “Blogworld and Its Gravity,” writer Matt Welch asks, “So what have [weblogs] contributed to journalism? Four things: personality, eyewitness testimony, editorial filtering, and uncounted gigabytes of new knowledge.”

And Jeff Jarvis, longtime journalist and now CEO of Advance.net (the Internet wing of Conde Nast), is quoted as elaborating that weblogs are popular because, “…they have something to say. In a media world that’s otherwise leached of opinions and life, there’s so much life in them.”

I couldn’t agree more! For all their shortcomings, despite the wide variable of content quality in weblogs, they bring back the individual human voice to media. The personal voice.

While the age of mass media brought valuable standards of quality and accuracy to the news business, it also in large measure drained the news of personal insight and, impact. It also sharply narrowed the range of perspectives offered, to the point that it was possible to forget that the news is actually about people.

Anyway, read the CJR series. I’m going to keep reading it. Way to go, CJR!