blogging, journalism & credibility - Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Jan 21, 2005 - January 21-22, 2005 at Harvard University ..... recommendation and ranking of blog posts, which was something we hoped to hear more ..... This theory actually originates in the field of biology, as scientists ...... computer as interface. ...... Information Services at the University of Maryland, College Park, ...
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BLOGGING, JOURNALISM & CREDIBILITY: Battleground and Common Ground

A conference

January 21-22, 2005 at Harvard University

Sponsored by: The Berkman Center for Internet & Society (Harvard Law School) The Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics & Public Policy (Harvard Kennedy School of Government) and Office of Information Technology Policy, American Library Association.

Report written and compiled by: Rebecca MacKinnon

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Contents: 1. Executive Summary…………………………………………………………….. 3 2. The Idea…………………………………………………………………………. 6 3. The Blogosphere’s Reaction and Pre-Conference Debates………………….. 7 4. The Conference………………………………………………………………... 11 5. SESSION 1: Jay Rosen: “Bloggers vs. Journalists” is over……………….... 11 6. SESSION 2 (lunch): Judith Donath: Online social behavior and the implications for news………………………………………………………….. 19 7. SESSION 3: Bill Mitchell on the ethics of journalism and blogging………. 21 8. SESSION 4: Jeff Jarvis: The business model…………………………………25 9. SESSION 5 (dinner): David Weinberger speech……………………………..28 10. SESSION 6 (Saturday morning): Brendan Greeley: podcasting, credibility and non-text media……………………………………………………………..30 11. SESSION 7: Gillmor and Wales: Looking to the future……………………. 32 12. SESSION 8: Wrap-up………………………………………………………….38 13. SESSION 9: Open Session……………………………………………………. 40 14. Aftermath……………………………………………………………………….42 15. Final Feedback………………………………………………………………….46 16. Appendices a. Papers i. Rosen…………………………………………………………….49 ii. Mitchell & Steele………………………………………………..63 b. Schedule…………………………………………………………………82 c. List of Attendees………………………………………………………. 84 d. Useful links…………………………………..………………………… 96

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Executive Summary "Blogging, Journalism, and Credibility: Battleground and Common Ground" was a conference held in late January at Harvard, at which a group of 50 journalists, bloggers, news executives, media scholars, and librarians sat down to try and make sense of the new emerging media environment. Since the conference, the resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan and the Jeff Gannon White House incident have shown how powerful weblogs can be as a new form of citizens' media. We are entering a new era in which professionals have lost control over information – not just the reporting of it, but also the framing of what's important for the public to know. To what extent have blogs chipped away at the credibility of mainstream media? Is credibility a zero-sum game – in which credibility gained by blogs is lost by mainstream media and vice versa? Conference participants believed the answer, ultimately, is no. Bloggers and professional journalists alike share a common goal: a better informed public and a stronger democracy. So now what? By the end of a day and a half of discussion, the following "take-aways" emerged: •

The new emerging media ecosystem has room for citizens' media like blogs as well as professional news organizations. There will be tensions, but they'll complement and feed off each other, often working together. (See Session 1 and Jay Rosen's essay in Appendix A1)



The acts of "blogging" and "journalism" are different, although they do intersect. While some blogging is journalism, much of it isn’t and doesn’t aim to be. Both serve different and valuable functions within the new evolving media ecosystem. (This theme recurred and was reinforced in all sessions.)



Ethics and credibility are key, but extremely hard to define. There are no clear answers about how credibility is won, lost, or retained – for mainstream media or bloggers. It's impossible and undesirable for anybody to set "ethical standards" for bloggers, but it's also clear that certain principles will make a blogger or journalist more likely to achieve high credibility. Transparency is key but isn't enough. Credibility also depends on a relationship of trust that is cultivated between the media organization or blog and the people it aims to serve. (See Session 3 and Bi