Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics

By Richard Davis | Go to book overview

6
Journalists

On March 22, 2007, the presidential campaign of John Edwards announced that the candidate and his wife would hold an important press conference that afternoon. Shortly before the press conference, CNN, Fox News, and other cable networks began broadcasting stories that Edwards’s wife, Elizabeth, would announce that her breast cancer was no longer in remission and that her husband would suspend his presidential campaign. The story spread across the Internet as well. The campaign told journalists the rumor was not true, but the denial failed to halt the spread of the story. The problem was the story really was false. When the news conference occurred, the Edwardses announced that they would continue their campaign despite the cancer news. Journalists struggled to explain how and why they had given out false information. The source for the news media accounts turned out to be a recently created blog called Politico.com. In contravention of traditional journalistic standards, the blogger who broke the story, a former Washington Post reporter, had reported the rumor after hearing it from only one source. That source turned out to be mistaken. The journalist justified his use of only one source by saying that blogs “share information in real time.”1

The Edwards campaign story highlights a problem for journalists “shar[ing] information in real time.” When seeking confirmation, a reporter may find the initial source was wrong. Publicizing that information before it is checked can confuse the audience, who, assuming journalistic standards that apply to traditional news media also apply to blogs, will take the story as fact.

This incident has a larger significance as well. It demonstrates how blogs are affecting traditional journalism today. How is a community with long-held traditions and professional norms being affected by a community that seems to play by its own rules? What is the relationship between these journalists and bloggers, and how is that interaction shaping the way both approach what they do?

-107-

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Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - Agenda Setting 9
  • 2 - Blogs and Politics 22
  • 3 - Bloggers 33
  • 4 - Inside the Blogs 56
  • 5 - Agenda Seekers 82
  • 6 - Journalists 107
  • 7 - The Audience 155
  • Conclusion 178
  • Appendix - Methodology 194
  • Notes 199
  • Index 233
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