The growing demand for blogging

The New York Times has an article up about how bloggers are affecting reporting of the tsunami disaster events and relief efforts. It raises some very interesting points, including:

Bloggers at the scene are more deeply affected by events than the journalists who roam from one disaster to another, said Xeni Jardin, one of the four co-editors of the site, which pointed visitors to many of the disaster blogs.

"They are helping us understand the impact of this event in a way that other media just can't," with an intimate voice and an unvarnished perspective, with the richness of local context, Ms. Jardin said.

That makes blogs compelling - and now essential - reading, said Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, an assistant professor of culture and communication at New York University and a blogger. Once he heard about the disaster, "Right after BBC, I went to blogs," he said.

"This notion that we now have eyes and ears around the world is more than something we've grown accustomed to; we've grown to demand it," he said.

I recently posted on my personal blog about how I find journalist's pictures of people carrying dead relatives to be very invasive and rude; journalists are outsiders who come in to "get the story" and often seem to have little compassion beyond what is news-worthy to have. Bloggers, on the other hand, have different publishing goals, and therefore potentially different (better?) reports to give.

The article also commented on how there aren't enough people yet worldwide with the means or know-how to blog & post photos, which points to the issue of access:

One veteran of the online medium said he was initially "a little disappointed" in the reports he got from the blogs. Paul Saffo, director of the Institute for the Future in California, said that with the widespread use of digital cameras and high-speed digital access, he was expecting to see more raw video and analysis.

He said that upon reflection he realized that it was difficult to get information out of hard-hit areas and that putting digital video online is still the domain of "deep geeks" with significant resources. "This brought home to me just how far we have to go," he said.

An understatement. Actually, considering access issues, I am surprised at how much blogging/images/video *has* come out of the affected areas. This is one reason why we still need traditional media, though; they have the resources to give us information. As the article points out, blogs & traditional media complement each other. It will be interesting to see what happens to the blogosphere in the future; I fear that if it makes itself too valuable, the capitalistic machine will find a way to turn it into a profit-making scheme and kill it (as it is desperately trying to do to the internet).

(Cross-posted on my academic blog)