New survey: blogs and journalism

A new survey (another report here) of journalists and members of the public just released by University of Connecticut Department of Public Policy shows a wide divergence of views between journos and the GP on a range of key issues about freedom of the press and trust in the media.

On blogging:

Perhaps the widest gap of all: 8 in 10 journalists said they read blogs, while less than 1 in 10 others do so. Still, a majority of the news pros do not believe bloggers deserve to be called journalists….

Blogs showed their growing influence among those polled, as 83% of journalists reported the use of blogs, with four out of 10 saying they use them at least once a week. Among those who use them, 55% said they do so to support their news-gathering work. And even though 85% believe bloggers should enjoy First Amendment protections, 75% say bloggers are not real journalists because they don’t adhere to “commonly held ethical standards.”

Overall, 61% of the news pros say that the emergence of the Internet has made journalism better.

I think this set of contradictions is indicative of the fragile emergence of blogging into the journalism field as a part of standard practice. There is a lag here between belief/rhetoric and practice. Usage seems to indicate that journalists are accepting blogs as apart of a standard repertoire of tools, they acknowledge First Amendment rights but still can’t bring themselves to say outright that bloggers are journalists. Part of this problem is the refusal to accept that there are in fact a range of journalisms with a range of ethical practices and that “the journalist” is no longer a monolithic category.

The debate over adherence to ethical standards needs to be seen in the light of the general public’s views about bias and accuracy in news media:

While 72 percent of the journalists said their profession did a good or excellent job of reporting information accurately, only 39 percent of the public felt the same way. At the same time, 61 percent of the citizen respondents said they disagreed with the statement that ”the news media tries to report the news without bias.“

The journalists’ refusal to accept bloggers as journalists is part of boundary control/paradigm repair. It is a process of ”othering“ ethical lapses and rhetorically affirming the high-minded standards of traditional journalism. It is a new version of the tabloidisation debates or the attempts to draw distinctions between television and print journalism.

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