Thursday, March 19, 2009


According to the Press Complaints Commission, via the Press Gazette, there has been a decline in the standard of online journalism.

With journalists and other editorial staff being shed by the bucket-load, chairman Sir Christopher Meyer - who steps down later this month – is concerned that the cutbacks are having an effect on journalism standards. He warns that sacrificing editorial standards in the pursuit of profit was like "selling the family jewellery".

Meyer suggests that the pressure of time and the 24-hour news cycle may have lead people to put up stories which have not been thoroughly vetted, warning that newspaper groups have to find a business model which reconciles high standards with profitability.

The interesting thing is that newspapers, which have so prided themselves on their "fact checking" and the editorial process, are now allowing journalists to post their copy directly online. Amongst these is the Telegraph Media Group, which has begun experimenting with what it calls "post-moderation" of online news stories, a posh name for effectively allowing reporters to write directly to the website.

That puts them on more or less the same footing as bloggers – in fact less so. On our forum, we allow comments without prior moderation and, as readers will know, when I get things wrong, or write arguable pieces, there are plenty of people coming forward to correct me, or dispute my "take".

With most of the MSM, however, not only do they pre-moderate their comments, there is very clear evidence that quite heavy censorship is applied. Try criticising a piece on any of the main news sites and see how far you get. At the very least, therefore, we can perhaps expect a little less of the pompous attacks from the MSM about blogging (although it is a while since I've seen any, not that I'm particularly looking.)

On the other hand, as we see what effectively is a technical convergence between blogs and the MSM, it might even be an idea if it was actually recognised that, when it comes to content, some of us occasionally do a better job. Perhaps, on this basis, the future is indeed blogging. Whether that is a good thing, though, is anyone's guess.