Chris points me to a discussion on the strengths of bloggers and MSM? Is Megan right about what blogs are good at and what they aren't? To summarise her arguments (I go into more detail below) bloggers make good opiners and good filters for the weird and idiosyncratic. Because they aren't paid they don't make good exhaustive researchers nor reliable ones nor will they cover boring stories about city council sewage conundrums.
At least three points of difference with this:
1. No doubt bloggers do opine at length. Nor that we find the weirdest shit, man. But we are starting to see economic models where bloggers perform the function of a journalist without the infrastructure of the firm. Exhibit A is Chris Allbriton's Back to Iraq--who was funded by contributions for his tour, unembedded of Iraq.
This is an anecdote not evidence, but during periods of disruption one often starts there. Can the B-to-I model be extended? Could we imagine a business matching qualified bloggers with interested parties who want a story to be investigated? Kind of Rent-a-coder for journalism, the experiment has just started, according to Jeff Jarvis, at NewAssignment.
2. It's also important to recognise the implicit choices made by editors, who after all don't have unlimited resources. Each an every day an editor decides what is important and where to assign their resources. So Parliament (or the White House) gets a ton of reporters, and the local teachers strike gets none. What are the implications of this skew? What about when the choices are not so stark? What about when the story is technically complex but important? Will it make the grade? MSM gives the veneer of comprehensiveness and objectivity which is starkly at odds with the daily resource allocation. No reporters in Lhasa, it's too dangerous (which means too expensive).
I started my career as a tech journalist in the mid-90s when it was virtually impossible to get tech covered in the mainstream press, even though I worked with the three most forward thinking British institutions (The Guardian, The Economist and the BBC, although not as a journalist). So I'm very familiar with the harsh 'so-what' of the news editor or the disconnect between MSM commissioners and seismic shift across industries, politics and governance from the Internet.