Paradigm Shift: There's More Than Two Sides to a Story

In recent weeks, I started to ask myself why I had given up reading newspapers, or why I had always found their stories predictable and uninspiring. Even when I had gone to the trouble of writing a letter to the editor, it was never published. I never seemed to be part of the newspaper's target audience. I have similar feelings towards politics: it's just one big old boys club with little hope of change and no room for anyone with my interests. I'm glad that social media, or specifically blogging, has stolen some of the news industry's thunder and reminded mainstream media that their point of view is not the only one that matters.

The light came on while I was reading 10 journalism rules you can break on your blog. Rule number three involved adding opinion. "The cardinal rule in journalism is to present both sides of the story," writes Gina Chen. [But] "I’d argue most situations are more gray than that; there are many sides or sides of sides." I couldn't agree more. As a union rep for 24 people, I know that there may be 24 sides to a single issue.

For decades, we've been subjected not only to what news media owners and their advertisers find newsworthy, but also to what the two sides of the story should be. Why couldn't they give more than two sides? Because of time and space constraints. But are these arguments still relevant today?

So where are all the other sides of the story or information that has been left out (or edited)? We add it ourselves, either in a comment or in our own blog post. As for opinion, I am more interested in another writer's reaction to a news story than in the story itself. For instance, rather than read the details of how AIG bilked US taxpayers, I want to hear the taxpayers' righteous anger.

Finally, Web 2.0 has leveled the playing field. Now, via blogs, we can publish or post our own news or what we think is newsworthy. Today, we also have the luxury of expressing our views on an issue through the comments section. In essence, this gives a voice to those traditionally ignored by mainstream media, and all it requires is an Internet hook-up and a computer to have your voice heard. For those of us who don't have a hook-up, there are Internet cafés, and if you don't have a computer, you can always try the public library.

The point is that blogosphere has become a new forum, and we should embrace this welcome change for what it is--a paradigm shift.


Anonymous | March 27, 2009 at 1:51 PM

The new thing is that everyone can publish. But in my view, the rules of journalism have already been broken more than thirty years ago, long before blogs, twitter, etc by people like Hunster S. Thompson (and some others labelled as «Gonzo Journalists»).

Heather | March 27, 2009 at 8:36 PM

Hmmm...I thought Gonzo journalists were those who mixed facts and fiction in their reports. I guess you could argue that we have some of that today.

François-B | March 27, 2009 at 9:13 PM

I just wanted to signal that the bending of journalism rules is not new.

Gonzo journalists incorporated themselves in the news. They were part of the news, not just exterior reporters.

News blogs are kind of an exception. Except tech news blogs. Most blogs (at least, the successfull ones) are mixing fiction and... not exactly news... not even informative content. In fact, most blogs are just empty words about empty lives. Slice of lives. Like in real world, some persons are more interesting than others.

It would be interesting if more blogs turned like yours, but I doubt that. Too much work.

Heather | March 28, 2009 at 7:45 AM

I see your point. I do like the diversity of blogs, and even the slice-of-lives blogs, because they remind us that life cannot be exciting all the time. What I love about blogs and their influence on news is that we are finally starting to see a more personal side to news. The mere choosing of a story over another one is subjective and reflects the news owner's bias. The same is true of the two sides presented. Those sides, I'm afraid, are chosen for the sake of safety, keeping the advertisers, business and government happy. No one's interested in my lefty, green, feminist mother opinions in mainstream media, but I may find readers in the blogosphere.

Unknown | March 28, 2009 at 4:24 PM

One of the duties of the current mass media is to shape the parameters of the argument and thereby shape the answers that are permitted.

What is said in most cases is not as important as what is not said or allowed to be said.

The citizen journalist (blogger)is not confined to those parameters so a more complete picture of what is actually happening ensues.

Remember we have the right to be wrong as well as the right to be right. We don't have to drink the coolade .

Viviana | April 3, 2009 at 7:56 PM

hello!!! this viviana, from "Soy Mama" blog ( thanks for visit me !!!

And sorry for my english, is very basic!!!!!

best wishes from cancun

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