Some of the greatest columnists and opinions writers of the past have nothing on today’s celebrity bloggers. It’s not that the Michael Arringtons and Michelle Malkins of the world are any more talented than traditional journalists before the internet. They simply have a bigger stage, are easier to access, and have no rules containing them.
Journalism in the era of blogging has taken the restraints that made it necessary to have a journalism degree and a perfect written diction and replaced it with the type of shock and awe commentary that was once reserved for underground publications and tabloids. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with it at all; as editor of my high school paper and reporter for a city newspaper (yes, I’m old enough to have worked at an actual newspaper before the internet), I have to admit that blogging is much more fun than trying to remember to never put a comma before the last piece in a list of four or more.
Journalism is no longer simply about reporting the news. It never really was, but today there is simply a lot more leeway given to the reporters that aren’t held back by old-school publications. As a result, one would probably have an easier time identifying a writer for Mashable than one for the LA Times.
Bloggers have become part of the news they are reporting. This is a huge benefit for publications that take it to the limits on social media. Look at Buzzfeed, for example. This team has done one of the most masterful jobs in memory of taking something pretty good and exposing it to the world through social media domination. Arstechnica, Techdirt, and PoliticusUSA fall into the same category.
What do they all have in common? They play to the people. That has always been a goal of many publications, but the digital age tempered by the rise of social media has made it a benefit to slant the news, to personalize it, and to build an expectation around controversy from the publication and its writers. We want to be polarized because it makes for more fun on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.
There is and always will be a place for true reporting. It’s necessary as source material from which all of the blogger opinions can derive. We don’t have to be in Washington DC to have a quality political blog. We don’t have to be in Hollywood to have a strong entertainment rag. We have the internet. We have social media. Let the opinions flow.