The San Francisco Chronicle has an article today claiming that blogs have come of age as a news source. I think the important point here is ‘a’ news source. When a major news story breaks, we won’t leap for our RSS readers to check the blogosphere, we’ll tune in to Big Media, more specifically broadcast television. But as an information source, there’s no doubt that blogs provide a level of detail and varied analysis which mainstream media cannot cover – there’s just not the audience to commercially justify it. Blogs have no commercial imperative (or not much at present) and so are free to spend time analyzing specifics.
The positive impact on Big Media though is that it keeps it honest (or more honest). As blogs get more influence, mainstream media knows that its facts will be checked and that it must provide fairly balanced coverage. Of course, each outlet has a bias or an agenda – it’s a product which panders to the sentiments of its audience, advertisers and publishers. But that’s fine, news audiences aren’t expecting to believe every word of the analysis (even though they may), but they would like the facts to be correct and no salient points omitted. Bloggers then can prevent selective disclosure or lying by omission.
I personally use blogs every day to track industry news which is below the radar of Big Media. I don’t rely on any one source, and I realize that it is partisan information. I regard it as if someone had told me personally. Some people I trust more than others based on previous experience. The same with blogs. In that sense, I agree blogs are coming of age as a source of news. But certainly not the source of news for most of us.