A couple of weeks ago I saw the movie, Good Night, and Good Luck about CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow's battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. It was an intriguing tale, which to me exemplified the best in journalism, a journalist taking on a despot. Later, I picked up Bob Edwards' (of NPR) book on Murrow called Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism.
After reading the book and learning about Murrow's pioneering work in radio and television news, it got me thinking about what Murrow would think of blogging and podcasting. My guess is that he would have liked them. He always butted heads with the corporate establishment over what he was reporting and I think he would have liked the idea of a publishing platform that was free of the corporate and commercial restraints he was always forced to operate under. He chafed against the idea of journalism as entertainment and would be, I believe, shocked at the current state of journalism, but he would also see promise in the self publishing world of the Internet.
One thing, I think, he would have encouraged people to do was to form their own networks of reporters and to get off the computer and do some real reporting. Blogs and Podcasts are too often reactions to the news (mine included), rather than real news with first-hand reporting. Murrow invented the radio news broadcast. He hired a network of reporters during the buildup to World War II and created breaking news, as we know it today. Imagine if bloggers instead of reporting on what we heard went out into the world and worked together to report the news, to be the news.
Edwards reported that print journalists wouldn't even give Murrow the time of day when he arrived in London before the war because they didn't consider him, a radio man, to be a real journalist. A few years later he was the president of the London press organization. Today, bloggers face a similar bias from the mainstream press and from a corporate mindset that fails to see the potential (although that is changing).
I suspect Murrow would have applauded this movement and would have, in his own way, helped define it as a news medium, just as he did radio and later television.