Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Scoop is Dead, Long Live the Scoop

Says Adina.

UPDATE: On the other hand, Banjo's items on pollution emissions reports in
Brazoria County qualify as scoops, to me, and he's on that trail like a bloodhound. I really like her points, though. Maybe there are still scoops - by definition, as new information is generated, there have to be - but they've just been devalued, or rather, blogging exhibits different values, I think is what Adina would say.

More from Kimberly and Kuff.


Adina said...

There is definitely original coverage going on. This is different from the stereotype that the mainstream media gathers the facts, and bloggers are only micropundits.

Even a bloggers gets the facts, though, the focus is on multiplying attention to the facts. Therefore, and wifinetnews and taxascapitol and offthekuff link to us, and we link to to them and other blog and mainstream sources.

The Chronicle wouldn't think of linking to the Dallas Morning News -- that would be unethical promoting of competition.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Some bloggers with niche interests, like me or Orcinus or Banjo with air emissions, "break" stories almost constantly because there's nearly zero competition for newsgathering on the topic we've chosen - indeed, that's why it's being blogged in the first place. Often there's nobody else to "talk" to, though, about the details - e.g., on HB 789, I think all of us were just waiting for you and Chip to figure out what they'd done, then relied upon your analysis - the MSM coverage didn't really tell us, but neither were other bloggers in a position to contribute immediately.

I know covering ignored stories on blogs can and does highlight stuff that otherwise wouldn't get told. I've seen some of my original pieces filter up into the dead-tree press or broadcast. But I've also seen it happen that the MSM ignore a story because a blogger broke it instead of them. They still care about being scooped, even if bloggers and the public are pretty much immune to the sentiment. Interesting dynamic.

Yours was a top notch piece, A, btw.

Adina said...

Banjo is also doing what mainstream reporters don't have time to do anymore -- cover the background and context of the story.

If the explosion at the oil refinery outside of Houston was like most "accidents", it was caused by a system with lots of close calls.

The mainstream media doesn't consider everyday sloppy practices "news" -- they'll write about the issue only when the problem literally explodes.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

It's important, but I'm not sure it's a "discussion" down here on the long end of the tail, so much. I get a lot more email about blog posts than comments, because we send a lot of them out over pretty big listservs. And though Banjo is doing a great job, I don't see a substantive discussion there, certainly not with others as knowledgeable as he - that's the conundrum.

At the more trafficked sites, on popular topics, the commenters perhaps behave as more of a check and balance. The narrower your niche, though, the fewer folks there are able or willing to engage in a debate or check your work the majority of the time. So you don't always get the benefit of the much-ballyhooed instant fact-checking in blogging. E.g., probation reform is maybe the most important criminal justice issue of the session, and I doubt those dozen or so posts have generated five comments. Plus I've wondered if the "scoop" factor hasn't dissuaded a couple of MSM reporters from covering (at least certain aspects of) the issue. Whaddya do?

Banjo Jones said...

"The Chronicle wouldn't think of linking to the Dallas Morning News -- that would be unethical promoting of competition."

i wouldn't call it "unethical." it's just a traditional reluctance among most MSM to recognize that another news organization did a worthwhile story before they did. When there were two newspapers in Houston, neither one hardly ever referred to the other by name if one was following the lead of another. it was silly. this was less the product of the reporters themselves but rather the newspapers' management.
for the same reasons, MSM may ignore "scoops" unearthed by bloggers, or not attribute that a blogger did original work on a story, but i can't give any examples because i haven't paid that much attention to the issue. there are, of course, several examples of the MSM following bloggers on national stories that otherwise were going to be ignored, which is pretty exciting. this is important because so many newspapers have closed during the last 20 years, or cut back on their reporting staffs. so bloggers, to one degree or another, may be filling a void. still, few do much original reporting; lots more do original criticism, which isn't exactly reporting but can be entertaining and/or enlightening as all get out.

bloggers aren't hung up by the MSM traditions. from what i've seen, they're eager to pass on attribution or just a simply thank-you to another blogger who did something noteworthy or newsworthy.

blogging is essentially a hobby that bloggers do for their own personal reasons, whether it's self amusement, ego gratification or just exercising the joys of the 1st amendment. it's a hobby for me. i do it because i enjoy it.

i'm flattered by some of the comments about my emissions reporting, but it generates no reaction from my readers. by the same token, when i was a newspaper reporter, i rarely got emails or letters from readers. most people don't write, whether it's a letter to their aunt or a letter to an editor or reporter.

i really don't expend that much effort in writing the emissions posts. the info is all online. all i do is check a web site every few days. the local newspaper doesn't do it. i'm not sure why but i guess it's not considered newsworthy. and there's always the problem of adequate space for newspapers. they've gotta save space for their ads, comics, city council meetings, traffic wrecks, etc. etc.