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2009: A Blog Odyssey

October 23, 2009

The fourth wave of online journalism has brought forth many concerns for traditional media journalists. Blogging, technological and social change, and the digital divide are changing the way news is reported.

Although they are not considered journalists by some, bloggers have changed the way news is developed. Their independence and freedom from editors and publishers allows them to choose how and what they write about. The blogs allow for millions of voices to be heard on an infinite array of topics. Those voices can share their opinions or support the blog with a comment, turning the news into an interactive conversation. This can get the readers more involved and it solidifies loyalty to the blog.

Blogging has brought to light a lesson for the traditional news media: people want news now and they want it for free. These free business model basics have been illustrated many times, most historically from Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report. While major news corporations were waiting to verify rumors concerning the President’s relations with Monica Lewinsky, in this time Drudge posted it on his blog.

In order for the traditional media to retain its existing audiences and gain new ones they have to focus on their communities. Through a type of horizontal integration they must be able to provide quality content for their audience over every medium. Quality reporting for print, ability for user generated content on the web, and fast bite-size information for mobile users.

It is important to strongly focus on this horizontal integration model because of the digital divide. Although there are a strong number of early adopters anticipating the newest mobile and online content there are still plenty of consumers caught in the technological and informational gaps. They either cannot connect or choose not to connect. These ‘have-nots’ and ‘choose-nots’ are joined by the neo-luddites, those who choose not to be involved in technology, that form a group of more than 50 percent  of the population that is not jacked into the internet.

These fourth wave concerns can be easily managed by adaptation of blogger’s tactics and horizontal integration of their communities. Traditional media should provide its services through every medium its consumers choose. It is in this way that they can usher in a new wave of online journalism, a wave in which they can have more control.

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