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Friday, March 20, 2009

Most Shared: Bloggers and Independent Media Gaining Clout

Ithaca College journalism professor Jeff Cohen sums things up quite plainly when he says the mainstream media simply cannot "dismiss independent media voices as 'unprofessional'."  In fact, according to Cohen, the mainstream media is "struggling to catch up and learn from the independents."

Citing recent groundbreaking investigative reporting by bloggers and awards presented to leading members of the independent media, Cohen puts into a nutshell what's changing about the landscape of the new and old media. The take-home message: the new media is here to stay.

From the article

"The crisis inside mainstream media, especially daily papers, is economic - but also cultural," says Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media and associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College.

"Many successful bloggers and new independent media are building active communities; they don't see their readers/viewers as mere 'audience' or 'consumers' or 'customers.' Blogger Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, for example, relied on his community to help uncover the still-reverberating story of political firings of federal prosecutors by the Bush White House. Marshall won the Polk award; Attorney General Gonzalez lost his job," said Cohen.  Recently Ithaca College announced the first-ever Izzy Awards for special achievement in independent media, naming Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!"  and blogger Glenn Greenwald the winners.

"[Goodman and Greenwald] have each built loyal, active communities desperate for accurate, quality journalism that sparks civic action on issues like civil liberties and racial justice," said Cohen.

The voices of independent media existed before the Internet, but new technologies have expanded their reach and ability to engage their readers/listeners/viewers as interactive communities. "No longer can mainstream media dismiss independent media voices as 'unprofessional,' instead they find themselves struggling to catch up and learn from the independents," said Cohen.


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