By Austin and Matt

[Austin]

Hunter S. Thompson

One of the greatest American writers of our time, Hunter S. Thompson, had a lot to say about objectivity in journalism. In a 1997 interview by Matthew Hahn published in The Atlantic Monthly, Thompson said,

I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view… Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long…. the trick is that you have to use words well enough so that these nickle-and-dimers who come around bitching about being objective or the advertisers don’t like it are rendered helpless by the fact that it’s good… I don’t quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.”

Thompson invented Gonzo Journalism, a subset of journalism he describes as subjective, but a term he admits he’s “come to dislike because of the way it’s been cast: inaccurate, crazy.” In reality, he believed “[a]ll the journalists who are known, really, have been that way because they were subjective” which he felt described the term best. When asked how it compares to New Journalism, he claimed its “[i]ntertwined, in that it is no accident that Gonzo is in Tom Wolfe’s book The New Journalism [1973].” Critiques of New Journalism in the 1970’s called it journalism “of passion and advocacy” (Gerald Grant). Curtis D. MacDougal in the Sixth Edition of his Interpretative Reporting to New Journalism indexed many of its contemporary definitions: “Activist, advocacy, participatory, tell-it-as-you-see-it, sensitivity, investigative, saturation, humanistic, reformist and a few more.” Comparably, when Thompson was asked what the mission of his journalistic style was regardless of how he felt about Gonzo Journalism presently, he’s quoted: “ I can’t think in terms of journalism without thinking in terms of political ends. Unless there’s been a reaction, there’s been no journalism. It’s cause and effect.” Therefore he would agree, if something is written well, it doesn’t need to entice people with pictures, flashy graphics, or a catchy title like ‘Region in Revolt.’ Commenting on the uprisings in the Middle East, the homepage on the World News section of the New York Times April 6th, 2011 read this hoping to entice readers.

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[Austin and Matt]

Without a doubt, blogging is changing the way we receive information and also refocusing our attention from traditional news media to the online world. Because of their more personal, interactive nature, blogs are an essential medium for understanding how and why information is circulating online. This concept is further exlplained in the idea of the Blogipelago.

It’s reported that 14% of the general public is on Twitter compared to the 74% of bloggers. The number is supposedly higher for professional bloggers, whose primary use is promotion of their own blogs. Information can reach a much wider audience through Twitter than through updating a site alone. The question, then, is what are professional bloggers? Another commonly asked question is whether or not bloggers should be considered journalists. Clay Shirky’s view on this that they are simply a new answer to how we inform society, and that the networks of how we are becoming informed are drastically changing with the increasing use of the internet in our everyday lives.

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The Web is so much more than just a place to exchange. It offers more than just ideas, products, information, news, and pleasure. For some of us it is a venue for community.  Some people find more, feel more, and experience more while surfing the infinite void of information. And they become so good at it that these people manage to find each other, they share their likeminded ideas, their relevant information, their similar humor with each other. These people find each other on social news websites. They form communities on these websites, they become committed to these websites, and make them not only part of their daily routine but their lives.  So if these communities formed on social news sites are so important and tight then why do some of them fade into the Internet abyss? Why do some social news sites, ones that were once filled with users that committed themselves to the community of the site leave? Are they just moving on to something better? Or are there other motivations, other outside forces that break the community and disvalue the site?

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Going into this travelogue I planned on dissecting the battle between two of the top social media news sites on the web: Reddit.com and Digg.com. I was aware of the two sites and their rival histories, therefore I planned on concentrating my research around where that hate was coming from and why the users of each respective site are so involved in the cyber battle for best social media news site. Well after some research, looking at site trends, and becoming a borderline site addict myself, I have concluded that the battle is practically over and that Reddit has come out the victor.  I had no intention in claiming a winner for this travelogue but when looking at statistics and talking to a number of former diggers it has become clear that Digg has become an internet ghost town, comparable to that of MySpace and Friendsters of cyber past. There were no more questions to why a battle was occurring but more so questions to why it ended. Once I realized that Digg was facing its end in this cyber battle I became more interested in why and how it “lost”. I decided the best place to start was with its history. Where Digg began. Read the rest of this entry »

For months I have been plagued by my Internet savvy friends’ obsessions with social news sites, in particular Reddit.com and Digg.com. While the two sites differ so greatly in look, feel, style, and membership, they are generally going after the same crowd – those who want to read and share in media on the Internet. A line has been drawn through the crowd though, as users begin to take sides and bicker over which of the two popular sites is best. This fight is not small scale, in fact it has reached a full-blown battle that has spawned hatred between each site’s respective users that has splashed across the Internet.

I am not interested in finding out which site is better. I do not wish to enter the battle and pledge my allegiance. But instead I want to know what exactly they are fighting about. I want to know what is most important in deciding what makes the best social news site. Is it functionality and usefulness? Or is it content and accreditation? Or is it some extreme combination of it all?

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