Monday, February 27, 2006

Disruptive Journalism

Blogger Mark Harrison, writing from Norway, has a new article at (via PJM) entitled "Disruptions in the Fourth Estate" that discusses the advent of independent citizen journalism and its competitive challenge to the mainstream media establishment.

He generously cites this blog as an example of this:

Nowhere have such examples been more prescient recently than last week in the field of journalism, when two high-quality, equally highly acclaimed weblogs published well-written, erudite and startlingly professional pieces of investigative journalism.

The first piece to break waves was a thorough report on a terrorist training camp inside New York State founded by Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, the Islamic cleric Daniel Pearl was attempting to interview when he was kidnapped. Daring, provocative, and written with the type of considerable elegance New York Times staffers would be envious of, The Politics of CP's "Jamaat ul-Fuqra Training Compound Inside the United States" was an admirable feat of journalism by the highest standards and even brought local insights and testimonies into the investigation, quoting one anonymous witness with catchy, breathtaking prose:

We see children - small children run around over there when they should be in school. We hear bursts of gunfire all of the time, and we know that there is military like training going on there. Those people are armed and dangerous. We get nothing but menacing looks from the people who go in and out of the camp, and sometime they yell at us to mind our own business when we are just driving by. We don't even dare to slow down when we drive by. They own this mountain and they know it, and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can't even do that. Who wants to buy property next to that?
The result was that the exclusive report was ultimately picked up by World Net Daily, one of the largest internet news sites around, and the findings are being followed up by official investigators.
While I appreciate his words, I must credit Doug Hagmann of the Northeast Intelligence Network, for penning most of that report. However, our partnership on the investigation was, I think, a great example of how the blogosphere is encouraging new distributed information and resource networks.

Harrison offers that blogging is a new form of low-end technological disruption in the market, or industry, of journalism. He goes on to say, "The reaction from The Fourth Estate to this new form of media has been nothing short of hysterical: the responses of professional media pundits have been everywhere from embracing to abusive." This is true, and I think it will be very interesting to see how blogging, as it progresses, contributes to the general fabric of available information. Read the whole thing.

[Also, check out Harrison's own blog site, The Global Perspective.]

The Belmont Club approaches the subject somewhat more cautiously, but reasonably:
I'm not sure that in-depth blog reports or unedited video will ever have the mass appeal of slickly packaged print and video products which are simplified so that they can be digested at a glance or reduced into a single memorable soundbite.

...However, the low cost of entry into Internet publishing makes it possible for authors to create specialty publications which can effectively reach their audiences. Whether that's good or bad is the subject of debate.
That debate ensues in a rather lenghthy string of comments. Go see Wretchard's post here.

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