As SG Standard noted the blogosphere can be likened to sports talk radio. While there is probably less screening of commenters on blogs, if you have listened to any talk radio for 15 minutes, you have definitely heard some lame callers. And with blogs, you don't have to deal with "Hey, Paul, love the show, how are you?", which begins EVERY freakin' call (if the last 5 callers asked, you don't have to ask also).
And as MaconDawg noted, the best bloggers usually rise to the top and get the most traffic. People who offer something more than just the ordinary opinion or schlock, get readers (just like newspapers or viewers for TV).
And as Joel noted, there is definitely a misconception that all journalist are qualified professionals. As a J-school grad, I can tell you that the only things a "professional journalist" learns that someone else might not learn is:
- What makes something newsworthy?
- Make sure you find a second or multiple sources.
- Laws regarding slander and libel
- Writing techniques, like using active voice
I think some of the blogosphere does come short on #2 at times, but there are some very responsible bloggers as well.
As Orson and the proprietor of this blog noted, just about all of you are lawyers, so hopefully you all understand libel and slander.
Finally, good writers will always attract readers.
But as SG Standard and DavetheDawg noted, probably the bigger issue is the massive change that is occurring in the media.
I agree with what most of Dave said. As someone who worked for 9 years in small and medium TV markets in the southeast, I can attest that ESPN has changed the face of local coverage of sports. I have argued with station management about this with little avail. Specifically, I remember when the station I was at decided to permanently drop the sports tease in the 6pm news. For those of you who don't know, that's when they are about to go to a commercial break after weather and say, "The Braves were in another game decided by 1-run, did it turn out like the other 1-run games this season? Fred will have the answer in sports." When I asked why the station had made this decision they said viewership in sports was down and so they weren't putting as much emphasis on it. My response was, "if you draw less attention to sports, it isn't going to gain any viewers. Why not try to improve the product?" There are 2 ways that most TV stations have addressed the sports issue caused by ESPN and the internet's emergence: 1) cut time allotted, cut staff and reduce coverage or 2) go more local in your coverage. Unfortunately, many stations chose the former. I prefer the latter. In big markets, this usually means a lot of stories about the local professional franchises, which ESPN may not have time for. In smaller markets, it means more coverage of local colleges and high school sports. If you haven't noticed, Friday nights in the fall are a big deal at some TV stations (thankfully).
But a more recent trend is the effect caused by the increase in the speed of information transmission. We can get info very fast these days and in news, being faster is important. Unfortunately, it is becoming more important that being right or being good. "Get it on now!" has replaced "Is this important?" or "Is this quality journalism?" And it is not just small market "bush league" stations that are guilty. If you watch the nightly news, you get coverage of a campaign chalked full of polls instead of coverage of issues (of course, you also get a hundred ads for pharmaceuticals, but that is another issues). I fear, and maybe Bob and Buzz do to, that journalism is in decline, as news operations have become assembly line purveyors of "fast food" information. Maybe the blogosphere does serve up its fair share of junk food, but it isn't any worse than what is becoming the norm in papers and on TV stations. I think rather than collectively bash the bloggers; maybe Bob and Buzz should talk a look at their brethren and focus on improving that group.
However, the blogoshere is subject to the pitfalls of the need for immediacy. Since many bloggers are not full-time journalist and writers, it is quite easy for someone to run with a story or photo without having good or complete info. While there is some need to prevent carelessness among bloggers, I think that in many cases, readers can discern what is true and what is not or what is farked.
As Kyle and others noted, there is room for the mainstream media and the blogosphere to work together or at least compliment each other. I think you only have to look at ESPN to see that is true. Like him or not, Simmons is a blogger working for "The Worldwide Leader...". And what is SportsNation, but a community much like that built up by Orson, Leitch, Bean, King, PWD and others.