by Eric Auchard
Yahoo Inc. said on Monday it will begin featuring the work of
self-published Web bloggers side-by-side with the work of professional
journalists, leveling distinctions between the two.
Yahoo News, the world's most popular Internet media destination, is
set to begin testing on Tuesday an expanded news search system that
includes not only news stories and blogs but also user-contributed
photos and related Web links.
The move will further stoke the debate between media traditionalists
who want to maintain strict walls between news and commentary and
those who argue such boundaries are elitist and undervalue the work of
Blogs, short for Web logs, are easy-to-publish Web sites where
millions of individuals post commentary from political analysis to
personal musings, creating a grassroots publishing medium that
challenges established media's authority.
Yahoo said its move to combine professionally edited news alongside
the work of grassroots commentators promises to enrichen the sources
of information on breaking news events.
"Traditional media doesn't have the time and resources to cover all
the stories," Joff Redfern, product director for Yahoo Search
said. "It really does add substantially to what you are looking at
when you are looking for news."
Yahoo has, in effect, created a three-tier system for finding news
that starts with the links to top ten stories and related photographs
produced by mainstream news organizations on the main Yahoo News site.
Readers searching for further details will be taken to a second-level
news site, which splits the page between news from 6,500 professional
sources and links to the hundreds of thousands of blogs available from
its syndication service.
Thus the expanded search stops short of blurring all lines between
edited news and self-publishing. "We do try to demarcate what is
mainstream media and what is user-generated content so that there is
no confusion there," Redfern said.
Those choosing to dig still deeper can click on "More Blog results..."
to be taken to purely user-generated news from blogs, photos and
links. This allow the user to search 10 million blogs listed on
Yahoo's blogs blog tracking service.
The search includes links to many of the 42 million photos on the
popular Flickr photo-sharing site, which Yahoo acquired this past
spring, as well as to My Web, Yahoo's mechanism for allowing its users
to learn from the Web searches of others.
FIGHTING TO DEFINE JOURNALISM
Robert Thompson, a media studies professor at Syracuse University,
said it was important to preserve the distinctions between
professional journalism and personal commentary.
He defined professional journalism as reporting which adheres to
standards of accuracy and writing subjected to an editorial process,
and all done with an eye to journalistic ethics -- however often
journalism falls short of these goals.
"There is a distinction between something that has gone through an
editorial process as opposed to something put up by someone that has
been through none of those processes," Thompson said.
But media critic Jeff Jarvis, author of the blog Buzzmachine
(http://www.buzzmachine.com), said major Internet sites such as Yahoo
and Google continue to patronize bloggers by treating them as
secondary sources of news.
Jarvis, who is a former TV critic for TV Guide and People magazines,
mocked the notion that journalists live by a shared set of
professional standards, that they are better trained or more
trustworthy than the anyone-can-join blog movement.
"What made the voice of the people somehow less important than the
paid professional journalist?" he asked. "You don't need to have a
degree, you don't need to have a paycheck, you don't need to have a
byline," Jarvis said.
"If you inform the public, you are committing an act of journalism," he
Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.
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