Posted by: Tony Carson | 23 September, 2007

Are news agencies merely becoming high-end blogs?

Take the Blackwater story, for instance. It’s in the news right? It’s a murky operation that has become a curiosity, something you’d expect the large news agencies to roll up their collective sleeves and go after. You know, the who, what, where, why — that sort of thing.

Well, Google Blackwater and you don’t get much, nothing springs out as an in-depth analysis of the shadowy company of mercenaries.

Then go to CBS News … that would be ‘News’ and what’s there? At The Mercy Of Mercenaries, a piece written by ultra-liberal blogger Robert Scheer of, a webby award winning news blog. It seems he wrote the article for The Nation which CBS reprinted with permission.

Thus, we have this curious scenario:

A corporate-billion-dollar-US-news-agency goes to the well-established Nation magazine which has hired a left-leaning blogger to find information on a stealthy extra-legal company of mercenaries to write an opinion on Blackwater.

Talk about ‘news’ on the cheap. No wonder no one knows nothing about anything any more: Information is not cost effective; put your money in opinion.



  1. I found something about them..Blackwater –by typing Blackwater USA “I am feeling lucky”

  2. “News gathering” in the old sense is hardly found these days anymore. Zvi Reich has a great article in Journalism Studies where he is looking at the dynamics between the journalists and their sources. One of the things is that in the current setting the journalists do not initiate information gathering, but follow leads actively pushed by their sources. However, once the lead is followed, it is more of a journalistic investigation in the traditional sense.

    As to blogs, there is a good book called “Blogging, citizenship, and the future of media”, which is a fresh (2007) volume edited by Mark Tremayne. In the introduction he describes the relationships between the mainstream media and blogs. Here is a summary of his ideas that i am using in one of my papers:
    “First, he suggests that it can influence them through media themselves. In this case bloggers influence the priming by creating “buzz” around issues originally published in the established media. The second pattern is in fact circumventing the media. In this case bloggers lead independent investigations that generate “buzz” in bloggers’ community thus influencing actual events directly or through emerging into a mainstream media debate. Finally, Tremyan notices that after overcoming the initial rejection of the new platform, established mass media are currently going through a process of adoption of this innovation as we can see in examples of blogs linked and facilitated by companies such as Washington Post, CNN and others.”

    So, now combining the two, do we receive bloggers as substitutes to news agencies? Or an additional news sources offering interesting leads to the mainstream media that supposedly has the resources to hold a thorough investigation?

  3. i know lots of these sites (yahoo news, CBS news) have deals like that — both feature the nation, weekly standard, etc. They are glorified blogs — they just pull in content from left and right. In this case though the Nation has done serious reporting on Blackwater — their writer, Scahill, has a bullet-proof book on it. Makes sense on this issue. I don’t agree with them or want to like their content but their reporting on blackwater is solid.

  4. Yes, I fully agree with you Thomas so why pull in a non-expert to pen a piece from the far left, but that’s OK, too, the Nation is a pretty far left mag that as you point out has run with lots of material from Scahill, it’s that CBS news picked it up Sheer’s opinion piece that gets me riled up because CBS has apparently done no work of its own on telling the US public who Blackwater is.

  5. […] Yesterday  i replied to a Carson’s post item that wondered if the news agencies are simply becoming high-end blogs.  I was trying to make an […]

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