Phil Gyford


Friday 24 October 2008

PreviousIndexNext Apophenia: in defense of BoingBoing (or why i'm not a journalist)

Obviously, I can’t speak for any of the people who posted comments on my piece, some of whom hold pretty pointless arguments (“Why can’t Cory/Xeni post more things that I like, and less of the stuff I don’t?”).

But I think you’re confusing matters by saying people look at Boing Boing and/or other weblogs as journalism. The weblogs vs journalism thing has been argued over far more than it deserves - almost no weblogs claim to be journalism, and almost none are journalism. “Journalism” implies topical news and/or research/investigation, which makes up a tiny proportion of weblogs. So I’m not sure there are many people who “expect blogs to be journalism” (and anyone who does is going to be permanently disappointed).

My point was that as a weblog becomes popular it may edge closer towards “publishing” - when the weblog is read by a huge number of people, mostly strangers. It may not be fair or expected by the writers, but I do feel this changes the nature of the weblog and, in turn, some of the responsibilities involved.

Some people might never need to worry about these responsibilities - if a weblog detailing someone’s nightly dreams becomes inexplicably popular there’s little responsibility for accuracy required.

But if, like *some* of the posts on Boing Boing, the posts are factual (and particularly if they’re of a campaigning nature, asking readers to take some action) there seems to be more of a responsibility to make the posts accurate.

It may seem unfair that an external force like the number of readers affects how someone should write, but that doesn’t make it less true.

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