Lovely thoughtful post from Scott Rosenberg on how No reader is an island – essentially on how knowledgeable bloggers in the outside world are making life for the generalists in news rooms really, really hard:
Until recently, each reader who saw the holes in the occasional story he knew well was, in essence, an island; and most of those readers rested in some confidence that, even though that occasional story was problematic, the rest of the paper was, really, pretty good. Only now, the Net — and in particular the explosion of blogs, with their outpouring of expertise in so many fields — has connected those islands, bringing into view entire continents of inadequate, hole-ridden coverage. The lawyer blogs are poking holes in the legal coverage, while the tech blogs are poking holes in the tech coverage, the librarian blogs are poking holes in the library coverage — and the political blogs, of course, are ripping apart the political coverage in a grand tug of war from the left and the right. Within a very short time we’ve gone from seeing the newspaper as a product that occasionally fails to live up to its own standards to viewing it as one that has a structural inability to get most things right.
As a former trade journalist, I really feel the truth of this. Rosenberg’s answer to the problem is to get the newsroom to raise its game; proponents of participatory journalism will probably say “throw the doors open to the world, let ’em in!” And in the real world, it’ll be a combination of the two.