By: Darren McLaughlin
You here a number of claims that blogging is the new media, and on certain days you can sort of believe it. But on other days, it's not as obvious. It's relatively clear that some sort of journalistic standards would need to be embraced for blogging to develop into a wider distributed and more respected medium. Many journalists are bloggers, which is somewhat ironic, because their industry is the one that's most challenged by a new media. Journalists have long spent time and effort building up their credibility and establising professional organizations. Currently, blogging has very low quality standards, and that causes a credibility gap with the readership at large.
In order for blogging to overcome a perceived lack of trust, a great number of steps would have to take place. And there's no guaranteeing that blogging can make the leap. Certain blogs are already considered to be relatively trustworthy information sources by many people, so bloggers who plan carefully can attempt to duplicate their success. But still, anyone can in fact start and maintain a blog, so the complete lack of barrier to entry causes a stampede of unprofessional bloggers into the blogosphere daily. Unchecked, this eventually spells the end of credibility. So-called “splogs” are sprouting up faster than high-rise buildings in a booming real estate market. Some estimates say a splog is created every 12 seconds! Whether this is true I can't say for sure, but there certainly has been an unending procession of them.
The trouble with splogs or other low-quality blogs is that they are many people's only experience with the genre. People who are mislead to a truly horrendous auto-generated splog, are likely to have their trust of blogging diminished. If this happens consistently, the effect is the downfall of the perceived quality in surfer's mind. And the main problem with an event like this, is that there's not much you can do about it. I recently came across an advertisement for a one-minute
install of a WordPress RSS to Blog website. When technologists can make a website that fast, they will. Even if they make pennies per day, they can run enough splogs to make a living.
But in the end, the spam problem will not be the only issue facing the credibility of bloggers. There are also great numbers of blogs which are strictly commercial in nature, so they can't be seen as being “news” sources in the same way a TV network can. The business model required to monetize blogs requires a cozier relationship, in some ways, than news agencies should have with advertisers. In fact, much content is at least indirectly created with the idea of advertising in the first place.
Bloggers have a shot to overcome the credibility gap, and some are. Technology blogs are considered to be great sources of information, and righly so in most cases. In the next few years, a push towards professionalism of blogging is inevitable. Only then can the full potential of the artform be realized.
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