New, old media good for each other, Huffington says
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New media and old can clash and crowd each other out, but blogger extraordinaire Arianna Huffington argues in a new book that the two worlds are rapidly joining together to bring out the best in each other.
Traditional journalists are blogging, while bloggers are gaining credibility and stature in traditional media, Huffington said in a Reuters interview ahead of Tuesday's release of "The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging."
The blogging guide published by Simon & Schuster provides tips on getting started and noticed as well as Huffington's own views, having created one of the most influential websites to gain prominence during the 2008 White House race.
"There's this real convergence, where basically you found that the best and most accurate rose to the top, whether it originated from Time magazine or from Nate Silver's 538.com, which did not exist before the election," she said. The 538.com website collected and analyzed political and polling data.
"The convergence is going to keep growing, as we saw in this election period, two years and four years from now, I'm sure," she added. "They have to share the power."
THOUSANDS OF AMATEURS
The Huffington Post, or HuffPo as it is known, experimented with citizen journalism in its "Off The Bus" feature, in which thousands of amateurs wrote accounts from the campaign trail.
One of HuffPo's biggest moments came when a volunteer contributor recorded then-candidate Barack Obama at a fund raiser, closed to the press, saying people in small towns grow "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion."
"Blogging," Huffington wrote in the book's introduction, "has been the greatest breakthrough in popular journalism since Tom Paine." Paine's 1776 pamphlet "Common Sense" dramatically helped promote the cause of American independence.
The book has its lighter moments. A section on "Why Do You Blog?" answers with "to avoid the loony bin" and "as a substitute for therapy."
Although Huffington favors goodwill toward old media, she does take sides.
"The vast majority of mainstream journalists head in the direction the assignment desk points them," she wrote in the book's introduction. "In contrast, bloggers are armed with a far more effective piece of access than a White House press credential: passion."
The book trumpets the immediacy and transparency of blogging over traditional media. It addresses some of blogging's troubles with standards and weak sourcing, but only lightly, concentrating instead on the personal and political benefits from the multitude of online voices.
The new cannot entirely replace the old nor produce the results of time-honored investigative journalism, she said.
Author and screenwriter Nora Ephron, one of several HuffPo contributors, wrote in the guide how she learned the difference between blogging and writing for magazines or books.
"One of the reasons for blogging was to start the conversation and to create the community that comes together to briefly talk about things they might not be talking about if you hadn't written your blog," Ephron wrote. "A blog was a soap bubble, meant to last just a moment or two."
Huffington wrote that she found "it was utterly liberating to find a place where the random thought is honored."
But most important, she said, "blogging allows anyone without access to Reuters or Time magazine to have a voice, and that is really what is significant.
"The new media will continue to allow people who otherwise would not have a voice to have a voice, and that's not something that's going to wear off," she said.
(Editing by Howard Goller)
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