We have all viewed those scenes on TV and in movies with the news media swarming around the famous person or news event, cameras flashing and microphones aggressively being pushed into the face of the noteworthy person. Looking back, photography, especially news photography, was a profession. News reporters started as cubs and worked their way up in the news room and ended up as editors or columnists. For some of the most famous people in the world and in the larger cities, this scenario has not changed. But for the rest of us who are not quite so famous, news reporting has changed dramatically as have the print newspapers that used to print the news.
There is a website called "Newspaper Death Watch" that lists the U.S. metropolitan dailies that have closed since that site was created in March of 2007. The list contains 12 newspapers. There are dozens of online articles chronicling the long term decline of the print newspaper industry. It is almost universally believed that the rise of the digital world will ultimately replace the printed newspaper.
To a great extent, this has already happened with regard to special interests such as genealogy. The traditional media traditionally ignored interests such as genealogy. Larger newspapers may have had a genealogy column or some small articles on family history, but by and large, genealogy has always been an ignored topic. When was the last time you saw a newspaper story about genealogy. For example, Well, they do exist, but if you read a newspaper daily, you probably have not seen anything about FamilySearch, Ancestry.com or whatever for a long time.
So what is happening to the way people obtain news? For one, news is going online and onto video. A survey conducted jointly by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism showed that the overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news. See Understanding the Participatory News Consumer. Blogging is part of that participatory news and is becoming the news gathering and disseminating media outlet, especially for specialized interest groups. In other words, Blogs provide the news that is either no longer supplied or was never given much coverage in the first place. In addition, the Blog posts are more immediate than magazines or journals which may take months to report a single occurrence.
In recognition of that dramatic shift in the news outlets, genealogy organizations and companies are turning more and more to commercially produced Blogs to compete for audience time in the marketplace. All you have to do is look at any of the larger genealogy sites and likely the site will be associated with a Blog post of some kind. The organizations and companies cannot afford to ignore the Bloggers, they collectively influence too great a number of the companies' potential customers.
The irony of the whole situation is that probably a great number of the readers of the Blogs are Bloggers themselves so effectively no one is reaching out to the non-Blogging community. So to a great extent, some, not all of the Bloggers are part of the larger move from traditional paper news reporting to a more diffuse and less structured format available online.
But it is also a fact that very few of the Bloggers have formal training in either writing news stories or reporting at all.