Conference looks at blogging, journalism and credibility

January 21 , 2005 — On January 21, bloggers, traditional journalists, and media enthusiasts alike, descended upon the campus of the Kennedy School to take part in a two-day conference titled “Blogging, Journalism and Credibility: Battleground and Common Ground.”

Organized by the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School, and the American Library Association‘s Office of Information Technology, the conference participants grappled with questions about journalism’s future. Mindful of the role that bloggers played in stories about Senator Trent Lott and CBS News reports of documents about George Bush’s National Guard service, participants wrestled with the changing definition of journalism and debated whether either camp — bloggers vs. traditional journalists — can maintain a sense of credibility.

Conference participants included Jill Abramson of the New York Times, Dan Gillmor of Grassroots Media Inc., Joe Trippi, Rick Kaplan of MSNBC, and Tom Rosenstiel of the Committee of Concerned Journalists. The conference was webcasted live and an online chat enabled outside listeners to participate remotely in the discussion.

During the first day of the conference, participants responded to discussion papers written by Jay Rosen of NYU and Bill Mitchell of the Poynter Institute. Rosen’s paper focused on redefining the vernacular used to describe issues related to blogging, journalism, and credibility. Mitchell’s paper dealt with concerns over ethics. The second day of the conference began with a discussion by Brendan Greeley (Public Radio Exchange) on issues of credibility within the media’s audio realm. An open debate about the topics broached on Friday concluded the conference midday on Saturday.

While discussions became heated at times — with questions over the assumed correlation between large production budgets and good reporting proving particularly contentious — most seemed to agree that bloggers and traditional journalists must carve a shared space within the information industry. And while questions over the mainstream media’s ultimate fate were left unanswered, the conference has sparked an ongoing debate that continues — not surprisingly —  over the Internet, via email, participants’ blogs and online magazines like Slate magazine.