Blogs build communities

24 Jan

By: Gabriela Gonzalez

Blogs are fantastic tools. They are a constant flow of information and posts. They can vary from being Web logs about a commentator whose early mornings you love to read about, or they can be about wedding photography, where you see and share other’s happiest moments.

A blog is like a magazine. It specializes in an interest. It caters to an audience. But better than magazines, there are, as Jill Asher said, no rules. You can also add media like videos to enhance content.

Technorati calls it an online conversation. There is something about the thrill a blogger feels when they receive a comment. It is an open dialogue.

A blog is a window to free expression. My father once commented on my own blog, “Never stop writing, because as long as you are writing, you are free.”

NPR spiced things up with its Argo network. It was a $3 million dollar project. They took specialized reporters, almost like beat reporters, and had them keep blogs. The purpose of the network was to connect the 12 public radio member stations.

The websites received some impressive traffic. I like how Andrew Phelps called the network a support group. Reporters use each other and support each other’s work through the Argo blogs. He calls it a microcosm that serves as a platform.

Matt Thompson said the Argo blogs, as I know other blogs do, not only serve to connect advertisers with the blogger, but they also form a community revolving around the focus of the blog.

Widgets, sidebars and innovation all capture people’s interests. I can easily get distracted and play with a widget on WordPress for a lengthy amount of time. Things that connect you to others and promote your creations become fascinating very quickly.

There are always blurry ethical lines when it comes to blogging because as Dr. Walsh-Childers explained in her ethics class, many guidelines are still evolving because this is a relatively new field. There are always things, however, that will remain unnegociable.

Concepts like accuracy, fairness, respect of privacy, and respecting ownership of pieces such as photographs, will remain intact. There is no excuse for lying, sloppiness and stealing.

Something concerning is that NPR merges the concept of blogger and reporter. They hyphenate both into one word. If you are a reporter, your standards should remain the same in a blog. This includes objectivity. It is complicated because a lot of bloggers act as commentators. With commentary, the line of objective reporting is smudged.

I don’t think a blogger should be called a reporter unless he or she is completely affiliated with a news organization and he or she writes objectively. Aside from that, all others are bloggers and commentators who have a freedom of speech, but are not held to the same legal and content standard.

Blogging is a tremendous tool that closes the distance between the writer and the reader. It can reach demographics and people that aren’t traditionally reached with news media. No matter what the blog is used for, the most important thing it does for us is that it builds a community.

It forms a community and provides so that the members of that community can educate themselves and grow in knowledge as they discuss common topics and interests.

For news organizations such as NPR funding for bloggers is still being worked out. Fortunately, anyone can blog. If you like it enough, you won’t require a pay check to do it.

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