The Austin Chronicle

Snippets From SXSW Interactive 2003

SXSW 2000 Interactive Festival

By Belinda Acosta, March 14, 2003, Screens

Journalism: Old vs. New

Sunday, March 9, 11:30am-12:30pm
Can bloggers commit acts of journalism? What is "good journalism," and can readers tell the difference between quality journalism and something less? Is there a New York Times equivalent of blogs, and if so, wouldn't it be the antithesis to blogging? Panelists ranging from "old school" journalists like Josh Benton (Dallas Morning News) to new media independents like Matthew Haughey ( addressed these questions with J.D. Lasica (Online Journalism Review) and Dan Gillmor (San Jose Mercury News) at Sunday's discussion of Web vs. print journalism.

It's a yeasty time for the news and communication business. While print journalists see the value of news reporting on the Internet, old questions of ethics, standards, and objectivity arise. The topic is especially ripe now that online personalities like Matt Drudge have carved an online niche that has become a "go to" for off-the-beaten-path commentary. Drudge and other online personalities have often broken big news stories, leaving print media to follow in their dust.

"I love blogs the way I loved talk radio when it started," Gillmor says. "The ability to spread feelings and thoughts of those on the edges is the best part of blogs."

While Dallas Morning News education reporter Josh Benton also has his own blog at, he admits to being more pessimistic about what blogs can do for journalism. The comment that blogs provide immediacy and interactivity are not exclusive to blogs, he said. It occurs in print media, though perhaps not as quickly, on the OpEd pages.

J.D. Lasica, editor of the Online Journalism Review ( is a fan of blogs and bloggers, however, "not all bloggers are journalists -- but not everything you read in the papers is good journalism."

Solid reporting, summarizing, thoughtful analysis, and commentary were discussed as the hallmarks of good journalism and bloggers acting as journalists. But in the end, it comes down to readers.

"Blogging is transparent," Haughey said. If a blogger makes a claim without supporting it, discriminating readers can decide to continue following the blogger or dropping him from her radar -- just like they do with traditional media.

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