The We Media conference is being held in London right now, and the question of the day is: When it comes to the news, between the mainstream media and citizen journalism (weblogs), who do you trust?
I believe there are two main factors that affect the notion of trust in and between the mainstream media and the weblog: The first factor is the major difference between the two. Where the journalist is answerable to an editor (who in turn is answerable to the dictates of government or corporate sponsors), the blogger is not constrained in his writing to please anyone.
The second is, that while professional journalists have the vocabulary and syntax which make their writing sound good on paper (and the background to make objective analysis of information), many bloggers do not have this kind of education. There are some very shrewd writings by bloggers out there, but some are emotional (mostly anger directed at government or corporate wrong-doings), expressed in words unbecoming of journalism.
The notion of trust is somehow prejudiced by these two factors. How can you trust the media when the "truth" is transformed? How can you regard a blogger's opinion as thoughtful and incisive, when it is coached in an unsuitable manner? If these two issues are resolved, then there could be more trust in both forms of news writing. One cannot be better over the other.
Citizens and professional journalists can work together to create a better informed public. While one is an informal form of media coverage and the other the opposite, both will present views in their own way. It's like asking whether television and radio can work together to present the news. While both have their own ways of presentation, our preferences can be subjective.
Are We Being Spun?: Fisk also points to the way that language is abused in the US Press. He gave the example of articles referring to the ‘fence’ Israel is building in the West Bank. Rather than calling it a wall, like the Berlin Wall, it is called a ‘fence’. Who would ever protest about a fence, asks Fisk rightly, pointing to the impact that the choice of language used in a news story has on readers’ ability to understand what is at stake. The consequence of how events are portrayed in the US Press is that the public is kept from asking ‘why’, explains Fisk. This does not help them to understand what is going on in the world.