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Are blogs a 'parasitic' medium?

 7:33 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)


Over the past months, I've heard several journalists make the same comment at various industry forums: That blogs are a "parasitic" medium that wouldn't be able to exist without the reporting done at newspapers.

I hear the frustration behind the comment. You bust your rear to get stories in the paper, then watch bloggers grab traffic talking about your work. All the while your bosses are laying off other reporters, citing circulation declines, as analysts talk about newspapers losing audience to the Web. It's not hard to understand why many newspaper journalists would come to view blogs as parasites, sucking the life from their newsrooms.



 7:41 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with part of it: most of them pick apart news stories.

Of course, I am not counting those blogs that tell us what they had for breakfast or how great they are.


 7:45 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Aren't reporters guilty of the same thing? How many actually sit down with President Bush or Donald Trump to get the exclusive story, and how many other reports just reference the one that did?

I think they're more ticked off of the low-cost, low-overhead approach that blogging brings to journalism that has transformed so many other online industries as well. People can now sit at home in their pajamas and sell diamonds online. No one said competing online for web visitors/consumers would be fair :)


 8:25 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)


The press only have themselves to blame.

Serious, well-researched journalism cannot be easily replaced by blogs. The problem is that much of the press has 'dumbed down' to such an extent that bloggers can, and do, compete on their level.

The cult of celebrity and sensationalism in the UK is beyond a joke. Bloggers can thrive in that space, just say things that are controversial/extreme. That's easy.

Moving up the blog hierarchy you can see some people who try to compete with the press because they see the press as showing bias, and who can blame them. Rarely do I see 'opinion' in the UK that does not have a political undertone.

Unfortunately there are so many people that don't care about what they read, they just lap it up and regurgitate it down the pub to their equally-neanderthal friends.



 8:34 pm on Mar 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Of course they are parasitic, just as every water cooler conversation is. Just as every study group, as every secondary source magazine article, Blogs are just one more outlet for news commentary.

Maybe the quality of news will improve when the reporters find themselves under much more public and critical analysis. No longer can they get away with spoonfed answers but are really forced to serve the needs of the discerning public.

What I think is happening is that people are becoming much more aware of shoddy cheap journalism and bias. Take the revelations in Littlegreenfootballs and similar over doctored images from the media by the major news outlets.

Ten years ago we would have just accepted as truth the images and text of the reporters without realising that they are pushing their own agendas and biases.

People are talking, the truth is coming out, the news is for the first time being analysed and stripped to the component pieces and publicised instead of taken verbatam.

Welcome to the new world.


 1:20 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Considering how many so-called professional journalists have made stories from issues in our forums, and in some cases, outright stolen our articles (or parts of them)...

Its a classic case of dishing it out but not being able to take it.


 1:37 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It works both ways. My metropolitan newspaper now has a column on the op-ed page that reports on what's being said in the political blogosphere.


 2:29 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Symbiotic, not parasitic. Reporters I know spend vast amounts of time reading rss feeds. My interviews by journalists have gone up after adding rss to an old site.


 9:39 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

most times I come across an interesting news report in a blog, it's properly cited with a link back to the original source.
This way, I have read newspapers online, I never knew existed.
Isn't this cost-free advertising?
And won't all these backlinks increase the importance (and thereby economic value) of the original publication?
Of course, the latter effect may now be less important, due to the "nofollow" tag used by many blogs.


 11:29 am on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

I used to be a "traditional" journalist.
Some news reporters do serious investigations and break new ground. However, those reporters are few and far between.

The push these days is to turn out as much as possible. There's not a whole of investigating that can go on if you're doing a story every day or so.
If you're not getting your story from a press release, or a news conference or the police radio, where do the ideas for these instant stories come from?

Why, other media of course. A reporter will read a story, make one phone call, confirm the story, and suddenly it's theirs to report for free. The original source gets no credit.

The fact that journalists are calling bloggers parasites is laughable.


 3:03 pm on Mar 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well said, gardener. I view news blogs as complementary rather than parasitic. Good blogs cite their journalistic sources and provide their own insights.

In addition, many (if not most) blogs aren't news-related. There are tech blogs, marketing blogs, and a zillion other categories. Many of the more popular ones create their own original content.


 5:54 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

old media are trying to change to bloggy, commenty type webby 2.0 etc.



 8:07 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

old media are trying to change to bloggy, commenty type webby 2.0 etc.


funny to see "usa today" referred to as "old media".
it was only around for about 12 years before the online version was launched...


 8:32 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Serious, well-researched journalism cannot be easily replaced by blogs.

Inbound has it in a nutshell. If newspapers aren't going to employ highly educated journalists who write wonderfully then the only thing they have going for them is the news. News itself is not protected by copyright, and it oughtn't ever be.

If you have access to a good library, go and pull a copy of 'The Times' from between 1900 and 1950. Compare the quality of writing and presentation with today's copy. Pay particular attention to the standard of editorial. If such a standard was retained today then only the very best of bloggers would be able to retain an audience.


 9:20 am on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

You could level the same accusation at most newspaper stories, which are in effect just printed-out blogs.

Most of a newspaper nowadays has nothing to do with the paper itself, and consists largely of stories taken from wires and slightly rephrased. It's the people who contribute to the wires who make up so much journalism now, but they're hidden from view when papers put their own reporters' names at the top of the story.

Papers don't do anywhere near as much legwork nowadays as they used to do, which is why bloggers find it so easy to compete with them, because they're essentially just doing the same job.


 9:57 pm on Mar 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Newspapers have a choice - adapt or die. There are plenty of newspapers that are doing well online - they adapted early, and they are able to use their online presence as another means of revenue generation.

People like interaction, they like being able to find information easily - that doesn't necessarily match up with print editions.

I have even seen some print editions change to more resemble a website - the way they present content on the front page. Some are doing much better indexes at the bottom of the page (using graphics, etc.).

Those journalists whining need to take a step back and ask how they can capitalize on the online stuff, rather than how it's hurting them.


 6:39 pm on Mar 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Serious, well-researched journalism cannot be easily replaced by blogs.


If you have access to a good library, go and pull a copy of 'The Times' from between 1900 and 1950. Compare the quality of writing and presentation with today's copy.

Not only that, the quality of content and analysis (as I am sure you realise Vince). Mass media coverage of almost every subject I have any expertise in is often incomplete, misleading or simply wrong.

Small Website Guy

 6:44 pm on Mar 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Newspaper reporters and other writer face the problem that what they do for a living is something that people ENJOY DOING FOR FREE AS A HOBBY. Professional photographers do the same kind of whining. The internet has allowed hobbyists to steal marketshare from professionals.

When it comes to OPINION type writing, bloggers do as good or better of a job than newspapers.

But I don't see bloggers doing the time consuming work of original investigative reporting. Newspapers that do this well, like the Wall Street Journal, can charge money for reading its website and people pay. I pay for an online WSJ subscription and it's well worth the money.

The typical newspaper has little to offer except rehashed AP articles

Besides blogs, the simple fact of easy online access to news is killing demand newspaper reporters because how many reporters do you need to report on a national or global story? There's no longer any need for 10 newspapers to each have their own reporters do a story.


 8:48 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

And newspapers are parasites to Reuters and company.

Does this mean Newspapers should stop?

No, Anyway Blogs and websites add "Value".

Value Added is what counts in the end.


 11:32 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>The typical newspaper has little to offer except rehashed AP articles

That's quite true, particularly in smaller markets. Today, a typical newspaper is a lot of syndicated content with a smattering of local/community content.

Lately, I've found that I've already read (via MSNBC.com or CNN.com) just about every interesting article in my local newspaper. Not read about the same topic, but read almost the exact same wording. Sure, they tell you who won the local spelling bee and which new store is opening this week, but I think it's increasingly difficult to justify their existence.

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