The debate about the legitimacy of news bloggers has been settled. ProPublica, a web-based independent investigative news organization, has received the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on Wall Street leading to the financial crisis.
The judges praised the way journalists Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein used online tools “to help explain the complex subject to lay readers,” the UK Guardian reported. ProPublica shared a Pulitzer last year but the story had appeared in the New York Times Magazine.
“We at ProPublica are delighted by this award, and deeply honoured,” wrote Paul Steiger, editor in chief. “This year’s prize is the first for a group of stories not published in print.”
In 2004 a CBS News reporter Dick Meyer wrote:
“Big plans and big claims are to be expected from folks ‘pajama-clad or not’ who are dabbling with new technology and new modalities of public expression. As a retired mainstream media (“MSM”) journalist and thus a double-dinosaur — I don’t begrudge these knights of the blog-table their grandiose dreams. But I worked on a school paper when I was a kid and I owned a CB radio when I lived in Texas. And what I saw in the blogosphere on Nov. 2 was more reminiscent of that school paper or a “Breaker, breaker 19″ gabfest on CB than anything approaching journalism”.
Apart from the childish nature of Meyer’s rant, Dick was displaying dinosaur perception. By that year there were many solid bloggers writing news and editorials, his news organization may have been fighting it – but they knew there was value. “60 Minutes” would eventually embrace this new technology to the point of creating their own iPad app.
True many bloggers are commentators, but I disagree with Jessica Gottlieb who is a well-read blogger herself when she states:
“Bloggers have immense value as we offer commentary, opinion and enlightenment. What we don’t offer is balanced reporting, and we certainly don’t adhere to journalistic standards. I am not saying that bloggers don’t have value, or that bloggers don’t break stories, but even the best bloggers with the best of intentions are more akin to columnists than to reporters.”
There are many balanced reporters writing for websites that deserve to be called journalists.
Last year a New Jersey judge ruled that a blogger was not covered by the state’s shield law protecting unveiling sources. The US Senate has tried to pass bills to that effect for many years but they have been vetoed.
So congratulations ProPublica your Pulitzer has helped the perception of “bloggers” and may soon be used as an example in the fight for proper recognition.