I never thought it would come to this, but I have to say I think Dave Winer and Nick Carr are both right. Dave, riffing off a post by Jeff Jarvis on where journalism is headed, said that he sees the future of media as like cooking dinner rather than like a symphony, since “readers are becoming writers.”
A nice way of putting it, that last bit. Nick, meanwhile — in a somewhat restrained post, at least for Nick — juxtaposes Dave’s musings with several reports about journalists being killed, including Anna Politkovskaya in Russia and two German reporters in Afghanistan. The message being (I assume) that real journalists get killed and bloggers sit around in their pyjamas.
A fair point (one also made in the LA Times recently). And yet, I think back to the blogger known as Salam Pax during the invasion of Iraq and some of the things he wrote, and wonder whether that wasn’t equivalent to war reporting in many ways. Maybe not battlefield reporting, but he could easily have been targeted by his government for what he was writing. And there are plenty of “traditional” journalists who make the average blogger look like a reporting dynamo.
Are bloggers going to replace all kinds of reporting? Hardly. Or at least, not until we have bloggers in war zones, as Dave suggests in a follow-up post. But no one said this was an either-or question, or at least it shouldn’t be. There will always be a need for strong reporting, from all kinds of places — I think we are just broadening the scope of who gets to do it, and that’s a good thing.
Haydn Shaughnessy has some worthwhile thoughts on the topic of readers vs. writers (and the need for editors).