They come at the bottom of the list, with just 25% of those questioned in a Globescan poll on trust in the media giving them a thumbs-up. News websites are only just a notch better at 38%, so some way to go there as well.
On the other hand, 23% of people did say they trusted blogs. However, personally I am not sure the question asked was all that relevant to blogs, those often pesky, sometimes tedious and occasionally challenging websites of opinion.
The question was: "How much would you say you trust each of the following media sources to provide you with the news and information you want on current affairs?"
Blogs do not really exist to provide people with the "news and information" they want on current affairs.
They exist to agitate, to question, to swap information, to provide leads and opinions, and generally to act as guerrilla forces against the massed ranks of the mainstream media.
I think he nails it. Blogs aren't news sources. They are, as Jon has pointed out many times, are people having conversations. Blogs rarely break news. They don't compete with the MSM. They mostly give opinions, press the news sources for more information, keep stories alive that might be dropped before resolution and press for corrections when errors are made.
So blogs as a "trusted source"? No, not our job.
What's probably most interesting though is even though blogs aren't a "source" for news, those that are don't do much better than blogs in the trust department.
But back to blogs. Reynolds sums it up well:
Do I trust them?
I trust them to cause a fuss, to raise a hue and cry, to ferret out facts and long-forgotten quotes, to apply mass brain and blog power to a hitherto obscure subject, to point or block the way, to embarrass and even at times to praise.
I trust blogs to find and recount to me interesting news items - and to do it in a way that’s not as dull as dirty dishwater.
But there’s a couple of other key strengths for blogs that give them a higher reliability factor for me.
Since blogs almost always link back to the source of their material, I consider their reliability to be higher than newspapers and magazines. If a newspaper reporter asserts that a study from Foundation X says thus and so, it’s not very convenient to check up on that assertion. If a blog says the same thing and links to the study, the checkup is easy and immediate.
If a blog is thus found to make a mistake, that is typically noted with an update right in the blog entry. (Bloggers who don’t do that don’t attract eyes for long.) If a newspaper makes a mistake, the "correction" is (1) days later, (2) typically hidden as far from the main page as they can get it without putting it in the comics or the classified, and (3) often so general and mealy-mouthed that you can’t tell what they really got wrong in the first place.
Bloggers aren’t competition for news services; they’re customers for news services. They are, however, competition for columnists and journals of opinion. I suspect that enough reporters fancy themselves as present or future columnists that it fosters a notion of blogs as competition.
It seems to me that the real recourse for columnists and journals of opinion is greater expertise and genuine authority (rather than bashing bloggers). Perhaps that would be too much to ask.
I think Billy hits the nail on the head. For a lot of people, blogs serve as news aggregators. The blogs I tend to visit most often are run by people who I’ve found have a knack for identifying interesting or underreported issues, so I can use them as a shorter means to finding news that is of interest to me. So while the news organs are still the source of the data, blogs can be extremely useful as traffic directors. As such, that means that the media may have to make itself more attractive to bloggers in order to guarantee they get a share of that traffic.
Blogs: "News Sources" or "People having a conversation?"
Sorry to disagree, McQ, but I don’t see any difference.
"News" is just one brand of information exchange. "Conversation" is another, equally valid one. By withholding the brand "News" from the blogosphere’s product, you inadvertently fortify the MSM’s sole claim to the "news" brand.
Let’s not help them by acceding to their terms. Without the protection that this purely semantic distinction provides them, CNN’s, ABC’s and NPR’s product-line would be viewed as what it is: subjective information-exchange.
While I agree that the rise of the blogosphere was a reaction to a self-perpetuating media monopoly, the ’sphere’s collective product is no less "news" than is a single report by CNN’s Christiana Amanpour from Lebanon.
The grand achievement of the blogosphere is its proliferation and distribution of competing information-exchange. Now, when an NYT editorialist, or a Dan Rather, mistates the facts to spook our electorate into this or that "corral" (ie. "Jenin Massacre," Kyoto Accords, Bush-lied, "No War"), there exist hundreds of other, equally-credentialed commentators offering alternative perspectives.
(I’m sure glad Al Gore invented Microsoft.) -Steve