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Citizen Journalism: New York Times Wants Best of Blog World

If you’re the New York Times, how do you integrate citizen journalism without empowering “salivating mobs.” You use the web — but not blogs — according to public editor Daniel Okrent, who grapples with how the paper could do a better job incorporating reader feedback.

He also quotes another Times editor…

“There are many at The Times who really dislike some of these ideas. Al Siegal understandably worries that the paper’s authority, the staff’s morale and the honest pursuit of truth could be severely undermined by deceitful or disingenuous attacks…”

This is a valid concern. But what Siegal fails to recognize is that “the honest pursuit of the truth” is already being undermined, a hyperlink away, all over the web already.

If the Times were to launch its own blog, where readers could post their feedback, they could engage in the pursuit of the truth online by verifying and answering directly any reader post they considered unfair or false. The discussion is underway already. The question is whether or not the New York Times will participate. Right now, I think it is fair to say, they are basically silent, and for that matter, less credible to growing number of readers and participants of the blogosphere.

Okrent goes on to write…

“The argument that all this would be too hard to monitor, that expanded Web forums would require too much staff attention to keep from degenerating into a free-fire zone of mud-slinging, rumor-spreading or character-bashing, is a strong one.”

Again, it is not as though the blogosphere requires the New York Times attention to exist and thrive. This site is read by hundreds each week, and others by even more, so whether or not the Times enters into the discussion, it’s going to go on regardless.

What Okrent is missing in his discussion, is the understanding that blogs work because they’re unfiltered. By responding to inaccurate claims with alternate points of view, and by linking to other sources as a way of triangulating fact, the truth is in the mind of the reader, by filtering through the mix of opinions, news and lies themselves.

And if you’re a professional advocate, a partisan supporter. special interest lobbyist or an individual with an opinion, what you think is now just a click away online from the MSM, whether professional journalist like it or not.

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