Tonight, Bithead shares some thoughts  resulting from this story  by James Joyner at Outside The Beltway. Various questions can be pulled out of the discussion, and James makes it clear that Fowler (a blogger), who attended the fundraiser where Obama talked about “guns and religion”, acted appropriately in recording and releasing the content.
Although I don’t have the answer to this question, I often wonder why we’re so content with the idea of protecting offensive statements made under the understanding of “off-the-record”, as if the situation equates protecting a private source or national security… sometimes it’s just protecting someone’s inability to hide their real thoughts and feelings.
Regardless, the point Bit makes centers mostly on the difference between “professional” journalists and those of us that aren’t employed by a major media house.
I have a high regard for the work that so many respectable full-time professional journalists and commentators do to keep us all well informed. It’s hard work, and I know from experience that selecting the most valuable news to provide within the short time allotted in broadcast news, and the limited column space in print journalism, is not easy. It creates not only a challenge but a sense of power that is perhaps not always well understood by the industry professionals but certainly comes across to the consuming public when we see the leads in each product focused on disaster, failure, and evil. And forming the content in a way that is understandable, and vibrant is even more difficult.
It is hard work, but it is not rocket science. Even though some may be able to point to dramatic mistakes and incredible stories of media influence in world events, the fact is that just about any intelligent person who can form a sentence can do the work of a journalist. I don’t pretend that I am on a par with someone like Carl Bernstein, but I’m pretty convinced that if that was my chosen career I (or many many people I know in my workplace or in blogdom) would have as much opportunity to reach that level of success.
What someone like Carl has that I don’t have is years of experience. I’ve been through some of the college curriculum for Journalism, and there’s some good philosophical discussions, but all in all, a good Journalist should have a well-rounded education to be successful. The solid dependable Journalist, however, is just like any profession, found to have experience. Maturing through varieties of experiences and failures are what make anyone good in their profession.
Here’s where the world is now, regardless. Bloggers have reached a level of respectability where their content stands in some media outlets side-by-side with the “pros”. It’s a cheap form of stringing for the online houses like Reuters . And as far as quality is concerned, as Bit said, the Market will manage that… low quality will not get the traffic.