Weblogs come in all shapes and flavors and Andrews has sampled plenty of them!

By: gurpreet_tni

Blogging as a Form of Journalism

Then reality set in and those individual voices became lost in the ether as a million businesses lumbered onto the cyberspace stage, newspapers clumsily grasped at viable online business models, and a handful of giant corporations made the Web safe for snoozing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Web's irrelevance: the blogging phenomenon, a grassroots movement that may sow the seeds for new forms of journalism, public discourse, interactivity and online community.

While no one is really sure where this is all heading, my hunch is that blogging represents Ground Zero of the personal Web casting revolution. Web logging will drive a powerful new form of amateur journalism as millions of Net users — young people especially — take on the role of columnist, reporter, analyst and publisher while fashioning their own personal broadcasting networks. It won't happen overnight, for more detail visit www.bloggers-guide-to-profit.com and we're now seeing only version 1.0, but just wait a few years when broadband and multimedia arrive in a big way.

For the uninitiated, a blog consists of a running commentary with pointers to other sites. Some, like Librarian.net, Jim Romanesque’s Media News or Steve Outing's E-Media Tidbits, for more detail visit www.greatblogbox.com cover entire industries by providing quick bursts of news with links to full stories. But most blogs are simply rolling personal journals — ongoing links-laden riffs on a favorite subject.

For more on the basics of blogs, see the good backgrounders provided by OJR columnist Ken Layne and by Glenn Fleishman in the Seattle Times.

I spoke this month with six journalists or writers who publish Weblogs and asked for their take on the phenomenon and its significance for journalism. Three appear below and three will appear next week.

Paul Andrews

Andrews, who now lives in San Francisco, was technology columnist for the Seattle Times before taking an early buyout. He co-authored the book "Gates" (Doubleday, 1993) and wrote "How the Web Was Won" (Broadway Books, 1999), about Microsoft's embrace of the Internet. He began his Weblog in November.

Weblogs come in all shapes and flavors, and Andrews has sampled plenty of them. "Some are tech-based, some are glorified dating services, and some are nothing but a collection of links. The ones I like the most give something personal as well," he says.

Not everyone who keeps a journal is a journalist, he points out, and "you can write on the Web about your work and life without being a journalist." But professional journalists too often dismiss those who don't work for traditional media, he says, when the truth is that the most vital and moral dispatches on the Web are being created by amateurs.

"It's the role of institutional media to act as gatekeepers," he says, "but what you have in print publishing today is a consolidation that's inimical to the diversity that exists in everyday life. With the rise of the Internet, people don't need to be bounded by those traditional filters anymore."

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