January 19, 2007

Blogging About Nothing

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Every morning when I wake up, I go online and check my email. Then, I check the news, and finally, I read the pop culture blogs.
Honestly, there’s no real need for me to do this. Most of the information that I find on these blogs can easily be found on news websites, but the blogs facilitate my laziness. The blogs allow me to skip right to the more entertaining news.
The problem is that the interesting stories are mixed with the blogger’s commentary, which is my main complaint about blogs. Very few bloggers are experts on the field about which they are writing (I mean, really, can you be a pop culture expert?). Yet, everyone wants to give their two cents on every topic.
I don’t think that bloggers’ motives are entirely pure. The most fascinating part of all of this (and my opinion on why so many people blog) is that there is money in these blogs. If you can write about something that enough people care to read, you can make a ton of money in ad revenue. This, to me, is absolutely absurd. No one really cares what you think about Cameron Diaz’s dress at the Golden Globes, so how can you possibly find thousands of people to read your thoughts on it?
When I was reading a blog on USAtoday.com during the break, I stumbled upon a piece about this woman who created a blog about celebrity babies a few years ago. Now, this woman makes so much money off of her blog that she has full-time employees and writes in her blog in place of a real job. Crazy!
Despite the financial gain, I think that people also just want to see their thoughts in print. Technically, I guess that the internet doesn’t count as a form of print media, but it’s becoming that way. And if you can’t get a column in a newspaper, the next best thing is to start a blog, right? The problem is that the popularity of blogging is forcing news organizations to incorporate this as a new form of media.
When I graduate from Cornell, I want to work for a newspaper, but the prevalence of these never-ending blogs is killing my chances. During the break, I had the chance to talk with a number of reporters from different publications, and everyone kept reiterating the fact that the media is shifting towards online reporting. Every publication has a website, and many are now adding the newer variants of online media as well — photo slideshows, forums, blogs and podcasts.
I cannot grasp why the media — magazines, newspapers and even television — has to transform itself into such a fast-paced environment. Sure, it’s great to read the news ten minutes after it happened, but inaccuracies are bound to occur with so little time for editing and fact-checking.
While we were taking finals, a family became lost in Oregon and was trapped in the snow. The media received new details constantly and, of course, posted these online immediately. However, I remember reading one afternoon that the family had become lost because they used an online map. There was an accompanying article about the pitfalls of online map services. And yet, by the time I clicked on this story, it had already been taken down because the detail about the online maps was factually inaccurate.
I am certain that this is not the only time that online news has been inaccurate because of its need to get the news to the reader the instant that it breaks, but I think that situations like this take away from the credibility of journalists. It frustrates me to know that there is not going to be a place for newspapers in the future because people are too impatient to wait until morning to hear the news and would prefer to read it in blogs accompanied by some random person’s commentary.