Are Blogs Credible News Sources?

May 2, 2016 |  Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Are Blogs Credible News Sources?

First of all, in order to prove the relevance of a discussion on blogs as a credible news source, it is important to define what news is and if blogs apply.

News is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as being “new information or a report about something that has happened recently,” “information that is reported in a newspaper, magazine, television news program, etc.,” or “someone of something that is exciting and in the news.” Under these terms, some blogs would be considered news and other would not. Many blogs are used as formats to share opinions or simply write about personal experiences. Others, however, are used as news information sites.

The Guardian, would be an example of a news blog. It provides information and current events from around the world. However, there are many well-known blogs that are based on opinion. This article will consider all forms of blogs in the analysis of credibility and ethical influence.

The ethics called into question in this case would be is it ethical for blog administrators to use popular blog platforms to write opinion that could potentially influence society? Opinion can be used to sway public views, however, blogs are often lacking factual information.

A webpage dedicated to facts regarding blogs, states, 98% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. Just kidding!! You thought that was a real statistic though, didn’t you? It is actually only 81% of people. But, many blogs do not even provide such statistics and yet people still trust them. What makes them so credible? Should they hold weight on issues?

There are blogs that are run by experts in the field. In this case, the blogs can be seen as credible even though there is opinion interjected into the posts. Other blogs are dedicated to trivial purposes such as complaining about irrelevant issues or writing information that has no way of being proven. This is not an ethical use of a blog, because blogs, regardless of their credibility, are seen as trustworthy, as stated previously.

In fact, blogs are the 3rd trusted outlet consumers rely on. This is compared against journalists, religious leaders, brands, politicians, religious leaders, and other ways of finding information. The top two are friends and family, but blogs are in third place. This information is based off of an article crediting an independent survey of UK consumers.

A quote, found in the above article, says, “The fact consumers look to bloggers to provide them with information about areas of specific interest, goes right to the heart of the evolution of digital marketing.  The question for bloggers is now how they go about building on this trust, maintain editorial integrity, and at the same time, monetise their site.”

While opinion based blogs may affect societal views, who is to blame for that? That poses a separate question all together. Is it the blogger, or is it the consumer that does not recognize the information as inaccurate. (Warning: opinion being stated). I would argue that it is a little of both. Bloggers are responsible for providing accurate information. This does not mean that opinions can’t be included. That is the format for blogs and the reason many people like them. They are unregulated. With that being said, a blogger should not use the platform for personal agendas to influence society based solely on opinion. Consumers of information are also responsible for following up on information stated within blogs. If they are influenced by someone’s opinion without any information, then they are to blame as well.

Another issue, which was briefly mentioned in the previous paragraph is that blogs are not regulated. Other news outlets, like television broadcasts, have watchdogs. According to Collins English Dictionary, a watchdog is “a person or group of persons that acts as a protector or guardian against inefficiencies, illegal practices, etc.” In most cases, this role can be done by the editor or even other media outlets who fact check published or broadcasted information. Blogs do not have this. Most often, a blog is a single party or small group managing a site focusing around one topic or mission. Who is checking their information? Do the writers care if it is checked or accurate? Again, this could go back to the point about the public being responsible for knowing the information that is being given to them. Does that make the public the watchdogs of blogs then? This is a good question… one that I do not have the answer to. I do believe, though, that the lack of regulation or rules that blog writers operate under (including myself) is something to be aware of when considering them as credible sources or persuasive pieces of writing.


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