Baronger's Scribblings

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Blogging Credentials

I have added another journalist to my blog-roll. Since blogging is supposed to be the new and upcoming form of journalism, it is probably best to see how the actual credentialed experts do it. So now in addition to "The Savy Literate"; I now have "Common Sense Journalism" in my blog-roll. One blog by a fairly new journalist and one by a seasoned veteran of the field. Both are recognized journalists, complete with credentials.

In the wake of the Eason Jordon affair, the MSM has released a torrent of vitriol upon bloggers. The thrust of the MSM argument is that bloggers have no credentials, therefore they have no right to comment. CSJ being a credentialed journalist with a blog, has a different take on this. Yet the whole argument goes off on a tangent, of who is properly a credentialed reporter. Without credentials how can anyone be credible they argue.

The MSM wants reporters to be treated like lawyers. The MSM is a member of the fourth estate, just like a lawyer is a member of the standard first three estates. In order to report, you have to pass the equivalent of the bar exam. Freedom of speech and the press only belongs to those who have passed the right courses, and gotten accepted to the right institutions. Yet where exactly did the MSM get these credentials themselves?

Credibility flows in both directions. A person rises up from the crowd, and gets respect and power from others. If everyone says someone is powerful and influential, that person is powerful by that very fact. The more people who say this, the more it's true. This is why instapundit is so powerful today. Instapundit is powerful only because thousands read him and say to others, "yes this is a big blog, that is influential." The same thing happened with each one of the major papers of today. They arose and became credentialed, because of all the paper choices out there; people choose to bestow them with the power. The MSM then loans this power to the reporters, and give them the credentials of their acquired power.

So where are the credentials among the bloggers? Yes there is the power of the number of readers, yet there is also the second direction. It is found on the sidebar of most blogs. The blog-roll is a form of credentialing. When a blogger puts someone on their blog-roll, they are saying, "here is a worthwhile blog to read." They are lending the power that their own blog has acquired to another blog. Just as a newspaper lends it's power to it's reporters.

Just as newspapers monitor and evaluate their reporters the same thing happens in blogs. Most of blogging is in fact review of what other bloggers do. It's a constant furor of cross-checking and fact-checking. This is good since if you blog-roll someone you also lend someone part of your reputation. Since reputation is key in the blogsphere, one should always check on the blogs in your blog-roll. I for example have blog-rolled instapundit. So just remember Mr. Reynolds I am keeping an eye on you. After all credentials are only as good, as the reputation behind them.

So far the MSM is losing reputation. The reporters are screaming about the bloggers lack of credentials. Reporters had better look to their own credentials. When it comes down to it a blogger and a reporter at the end of the day stand on their reputations both personal and borrowed. It's ok to look at someone's credentials, but in the end it's better to look at the raw facts and the conclusions that are drawn. Credentials are like a first impression, they only give someone initial standing. Where you stand after your report will depend on how good you are.

Credentials get you in the door. Credentials are just a reflection of your credibility. People will give some weight to your past credibility when evaluating what you wrote. Always remember though that, credibility is like reputation. Both need to be constantly maintained or they will fly away. It is easier to destroy then to create. The Main stream media seem intent on destroying overnight, what it took a century to build.



  • Thanks for the link.

    If I've left the impression that I think bloggers need to be credentialed, please let me correct that.

    My point, I hope has been clear, is that I think the sniping between MSM and bloggers is silly and unproductive. Both need each other, whether they want to admit it. And bloggers, if they revel too much in their current press clippings, will suddenly find that MSM has co-opted their vision.

    By Blogger Doug Fisher, at 18/2/05 15:28  

  • You have been clear. One of the reasons I linked to you, is your views on the future of blogs. I am mainly referring to some of the articles you also reference, such as the Times and amazingly enough the Wall Street Journal.

    By Blogger Baronger, at 21/2/05 12:11  

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