BERKELEY - Blogs are everywhere, and theyre spawning
at a rapid pace! Not to worry, though; theyre not alien
creatures invading Earth, but rather the latest rage in online
publishing and the subject of a new class at Berkeley this fall.
A growing number of people across the globe are using blogs
the popular abbreviation for "weblogs"
to disseminate and receive information on a variety of topics,
such as politics, technology and pop culture. Estimates put
the number of weblogs currently posted on the Web at anywhere
from 200,000 to 500,000.
Using a weblog, individuals or groups post a running commentary
on a particular subject. The sites also include links to other
resources and a place for readers to provide feedback, explains
Paul Grabowicz, director of the New Media Program at the Graduate
School of Journalism. Weblogs are updated frequently, even several
times a day, as new information is acquired.
Intrigued by this growing phenomena and its potential
for journalists Grabowicz, along with Berkeley teaching
fellow and Wired magazine co-founder John Battelle, has created
a new fall course on weblogs.
"Its a great way to get the latest information on
an issue," said Grabowicz, himself a contributor to a weblog
on electronic media. "Breaking news, court decisions, speeches
and other updates are often posted in real time, which can be
of real value to reporters."
The other advantage, he says, is that the sites are interactive,
with comments pouring in from readers all over the world, much
like a global network of news bureaus.
"Traditional news formats are static once a story
is published, it doesnt change," Grabowicz said.
"But weblogs are more organic, continually changing shape
as new details are added. And the information is not filtered
through an editorial process."
This format is ideally suited for discussion of intellectual
property and copyright issues, he said, so students will create
a weblog on the topic for the fall course.
Members of the class will post news bulletins, stories, background
information and links to related blogs, as well as solicit feedback
from readers. Local experts, including campus faculty, will
contribute as well.
"Were interested in turning journalism into process,
where we post a story and then engage our readership to expand
on it," Grabowicz said. "But it raises some questions
about our role as journalists: Do we just serve up a story and
have the public take it or leave it, as in traditional media,
or do we make it more interactive and try to connect with people?"
Not everyone is happy about journalists-in-training entering
the land of weblogs. When news of the class broke earlier this
summer, it created an uproar among blogging purists, Grabowicz
Their concern is that the blogging phenomenon will be co-opted
by media giants, who will remove the passion, spontaneity and
accessibility that are the hallmarks of weblogs, morphing them
instead into a traditional corporate news vehicle, Grabowicz
"All hell broke loose," he said of the media flurry
that surrounded the controversy. One weblogger, quoted in a
recent news article, called the class the "the Altamont
of blogging," likening it to the ill-fated 1969 Rolling
Stones concert that symbolically ended the peace and love era.
"What the bloggers dont realize is many of us at
the journalism school share their same criticisms and concerns
with big media," Grabowicz said. "Our hope is that
journalists and bloggers can work with each other instead of
against each other."