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Blogs and ‘real’ journalism

When I’m interested in a topic (or something breaking occurs), most often today it’s bloggers that break the news. Since I have both blogs and traditional media sources in my RSS reader, I can scan and skim over 1,000 articles per day and drill-down into information. It usually allows me to critically think about any given topic.

But where do I turn for well vetted, researched and hard news that I can trust? The traditional sites or blogs where I’m aware the blogger themselves are journalists (and yes, I critically think about their articles too!).

A friend of mine is the founder and chairman of Internet Broadcasting Systems and I’ve long admired how they connected on-the-ground reporting at TV news stations with online web site delivery and have some level of appreciation on what it takes to deliver world-class news. Joel Kramer, former publisher of the Minneapolis StarTribune whom I’ve talked with about what he’s about to reveal: a new high end news offering. As he states in this article about the blogosphere, “Some of the blogs are interesting, there’s a lot of it that’s not,” he said. “A lot of it is just pontificating, and I’m more interested in informed commentary as well as hard-hitting news gathering.

Obviously I embrace blogging and love the multi-perspective reality that blogs bring to online news and information. I also concur with Kramer that much of it is blather — but blogs aren’t going away. If anything they’re becoming more influential. Traditional news media are laying off staff like mad as they try to stay profitable, so I wonder how long we’ll be able to continue to rely on ‘real’ journalism?

But it gets even more interesting as a blogger when I consider what it would take for me to truly report on just one story I’m personally interested in knowing more about right now.

I live less than one mile from Flying Cloud Airport here in Eden Prairie, MN. For some time, a group of citizens calling themselves Zero Expansion has been fighting against a proposed runway extension which would allow larger jets to land. The Metropolitan Airports Commission  is pushing for this extension so as to offload smaller planes from our primary Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport.

This trend to offload to smaller airports is growing nationally as air travel grows. But what isn’t discussed much in any of the discourse around the Flying Cloud expansion is the growth with Very Light Jets (VLJ). With an runway extension, there is no question in my mind that the potential exists for Flying Cloud airport to become somewhat like a Midway airport in Chicago (a small airport right in the midst of homes and businesses that has expanded dramatically over the last decade).

But before I’d come down hard-n-fast on an opinion that I’d publish as a blogger, I’d want to go and interview the leaders of Zero Expansion, the Eden Prairie City Manager, the Metropolitan Airports Commission and makers of VLJ’s in order to get a complete and objective view of the issue and how real this potential is in my city.

Who has time for THAT!?!  No question it would take hours to properly investigate such a story, come up with multiple sources and write it. I sure don’t have that kind of time and this is why investigative journalism is so expensive and is such a struggle for the increasingly cash-strapped news organizations.

I don’t have an answer yet on how a new news media might work, but I’m thinking about it…a lot. Just make sure you keep your critical thinking cap on as you read a blog, a newspaper or watch TV news. Even ‘real’ journalists are increasingly sitting at their desks, searching blogs and competing news groups to come up with stories they can publish. It’s not just we bloggers who are pontificating.

About Steve Borsch

I'm CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Software in St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services. Read more about me here unless you're already weary of me telling you how incredible and awesome I am.

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