On Wednesday, April 19, 2005 at 7pm I attended the Joining the Blogosphere talk held in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library by the Commonwealth Club. The talk featured Dan Gillmor, founder of Grassroots Journalism, David Pescovitz, co-founder of boingboing.net, Jude Barry, Co-founder of Catapult Strategies and contributor to sanjoseinside.com, and Chuck Olsen, producer of Blogumentary. While the talk had its interesting moments, it was not what I expected it to be.
The topic of whether or not bloggers are journalists was again raised, with the consensus seeming to be that some bloggers are journalists while most are not. This is a topic that has been discussed for a few years now, and will no doubt continue to be beaten to death as blogs continue to gain prominence. The issue of fact checking was brought up. As David Pescovitz pointed out, “The quickest way to find out if you’re wrong about something is to post it on the net.” Jude Barry mentioned the need for free form, unfiltered journalism in the form of blogs as a response to increasing mainstream media consolidation.
I thought that there would be more mention of concerns of anonymity on the internet. This was not the case as this concern was not mentioned at all. Though the purpose of the forum was to discuss if blogs were a valid form of grassroots journalism, I had hoped that it could expand into different areas. This debate has been going on for a few years and has always resulted in the consensus that some journalists are bloggers. Instead, I would have hoped that the discussion could have moved towards the potential uses of blogging as well as the pitfalls. The future use of blogging in politics was discussed, but there are so many other outlets. How can blogging be best used in education? In public relations? In empowering freelance writers/photographers? How can future readers avoid taking pr spin and propaganda as truth?
I did enjoy the forum and hope to attend future Commonwealth Club events. On May 5, Chuck D, of Public Enemy fame, will be speaking at the Club. For baseball fans (I am a Dodger fan myself, transplanted in the Bay Area), Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, will be speaking at the Commonwealth Club on Thursday May 12.