Finding our way in a very old saying

Kodak BrownieGlenn Reynolds of Instapundit argues in a post last night that the relationship between blogs and Mainstream Media ought to be viewed as symbiotic rather than competitive or confrontational.

He notes that bloggers who comment on or cover news seem to raise the ire of traditional journalists in a way that Craigslist doesn’t. Yet Craigslist has done far more damage to economic model that underpins their ability to do journalism than anything that ever came out of the blogosphere.

It is ludicrous to suggest —  as people nonetheless have — that either Craig Newmark or Reynolds are out to destroy newspapers. Both are extremely good readers of newspapers either in print or online, and have demonstrated over years a high regard and respect for the practice of journalism wherever they find it.

Both are guilty of being adept and enterprising and lucky in utilizing a new technology in the American spirit of exploring a new frontier.

The companies that popularized digital cameras and later the companies that popularized cameras on cell phones, for example, are never made out as villainous as both Reynolds and Newmark have been despite the hallowed spot of the Brownie in camera history.

Given the choice, however, fewer people bought film cameras than digital cameras once digital models were cheaply available. Given a choice, many people have shown they will get their news from the Internet or advertise on Craigslist. Just get over it.

The challenge for traditional media, of course, is to adapt both newsgathering and economic models.

As far as bloggers and digital-only news organizations go, there can be a symbiotic relationship and a competitive relationship with traditional “Big Media.” may have broken more campaign scoops than any other news organization during the presidential election cycle. HuffingtonPost and Pajamas Media are building powerful media brands.

Even on my local level, there’s a bit of trash talking about who’s been more on top the latest big story, the TVA coal ash spill in Roane County. And that’s OK. Making news coverage more competitive whether it’s from the New York Times or a blogger like Randy Neal is a good thing.

Instead of viewing the blogger-MSM relationship as only symbiotic, which it certainly can be, I like to think about the media gatekeeper as having an open gate, drawing in more views and voices from both small and large, from competitor and contributor and from the uncomfortable as well as the comfortable.

Instead of heavy filtering to fit a physical newshole or time slot, mainstream media has an expanded ability to cultivate community dialogue.

Things that fit into that model would be aggregation of blogger voices, the practice of link journalism, increased transparency, user generated content and the often messy comments on stories. This is, perhaps, an expanded concept of conversation hostess or news media as deejay. I sometimes like to think of it as the “Miracle on 34th Street” theory of just being useful.

That all fits well within that very old media tradition of “Give light and the people will find their own way.”

I think there’s a future for journalists and journalism, both new and traditional, in that.

(Photo is of a Kodak Brownie from around 1910, via Smithsonian Press).

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers!