Bloggers arn’t Parasites

An academic finds local public-affairs bloggers who pull their weight, thank you very much.

Jack Shafer

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty. Click image to expand. The next time you catch a full-of-himself newspaper journalist bitching about bloggers ripping him off or a publisher bellyaching about his intellectual-property rights being violated by pajama-ed parasites, wave a print-out of this column in his face and knee him in the groin.

According to media scholar Brendan R. Watson, bloggers writing about local public affairs do not rely primarily on established media for most of their source material. Watson, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill media scholar, is presenting his paper this week at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference ("Bloggers’ Reliance on Newspaper, Online, and Original Sources in Reporting on Local Subjects Ignored by the Press").

Watson originally selected 330 public-affairs blogs in 92 cities that were independent of ties to traditional media outlets, commercial operations, chambers of commerce, and politicians. From that group, he culled at random 100 blogs for study, and from each blog he plucked 10 posts from 10 random days in 2009 and parsed their contents for their sources.

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