Sometimes, citizen journalism does just what everybody hoped it would
Posted by David Brooks | Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Traditional media industries, including dear-to-my-heart newspapers, continue to struggle with the end of our business model, leaving many people to hope that "citizen journalism" in the form of blogs and post-blogging social media will fill part of the information gap.
Usually it doesn't - reporting is often a dull slog, and depending on unpaid people to voluntarily do a dull slog is a sure route to failure. But sometimes it does, and sometimes it does spectacularly, so there is hope!
As an example (which has nothing to do with New Hampshire, but so be it), consider this Wired story about a landlubber's blog called Information Dissemination which discusses Navy strategy. It has become so popular and well-read that it rivals the venerable Naval Institute Proceedings magazine as far as required reading. (Proceedings sat on the coffee table my whole childhood, since my dad is a Naval Academy grad - Look Alive with '45! - and I can testify that its articles are, or at least were, densely packed with complicated detail and debate.)
Increasingly, Information Dissemination is the go-to site for meaningful public discussion of maritime strategy, naval leadership, warship design and the nuts-and-bolts of managing a diverse, globally deployed force of sailors and Marines.
Information Dissemination currently reaches up to 14,000 daily readers, despite a clunky layout, occasionally thick jargon and sometimes sloppy editing. At its worst, the blog can be frankly boring for the average reader. Still, 14,000 daily readers and the power to influence the Navy ain’t bad for a blog that began in 2007 almost by accident.