by Deborah Shawcross
There are millions of blogs on the Internet today and they all have an opinion.
Bloggers share many similarities with journalists however; many would not go so far as to call themselves citizen journalists.
“It’s more accurate to describe me as a dissatisfied media consumer,” said Kate McMillan, writer of the popular blog Small Dead Animals.
As a commercial artist living in Saskatchewan, McMillan lost confidence in traditional news media and began her blog in February 2004. She turned away from what she saw as superficial news coverage and biased news agendas. McMillan found alternative opinions on blogs which provided links to what she believed to be authoritative sources.
“I realized over time that all my life I have been getting half the story,” said McMillan.
On Small Dead Animals. McMillan blogs an eclectic mix of stories but her main areas of interest are fossil fuels, the “alternative energy scam” as well as the threat of Islam and extremism. On average she posts eight times a day, providing links and commentary. On a typical day McMillan receives on average 14,000 views of her blog. This is partly due to having her blogs linked on American blogs that receive a lot of traffic.
McMillan keeps a watchful eye on today’s mass media and believes the biggest problem is that journalists do not have a speciality. McMillan is not impressed with the general news reporters.
“You have Lisa LaFlamme bringing you details from the Middle East. She is not qualified,” said McMillan.
McMillan adds that LaFlamme is also not qualified to judge the people from whom she is getting information.
John Murney is a returning blogger, after taking a hiatus to complete his master’s degree in economics. His blog Saskatchewan Liberty Train may not have a large readership like McMillan’s, but he hopes that in the coming months he can make an impact in the blogosphere.
Murney blogs about current events with a focus on what people are talking about. But like McMillan he does not describe himself as a citizen journalist.
“To wear that title I would have to be at events, going into scrums, putting a microphone in somebody’s face and asking the questions,” said Murney, who worked as a professional journalist until 2004.
Murney is a self described classical liberal and a libertarian, which are political beliefs seldom discussed in provincial politics or media.
“I’m an alternative voice. I’m providing a different opinion to consider,” said Murney.
Journalist Stephen Whitworth, who is the prairie dog editor-in-chief, is not threatened by bloggers and citizen journalists. He believes an increase of news coverage of any kind is a good thing. However, there are some blogs that Whitworth views as crossing the line by promoting an extreme agenda.
“You can have a blog that is nuts. I think Small Dead Animals is a nightmare,” said Whitworth.
No matter what you call them, bloggers are changing the face of news by providing an alternative source for information and analysis of events.
Above: John Murney works on his blog Saskatchewan Liberty Train at the University of Regina Library.
Photo by Deborah Shawcross