On blogging and the blogosphere

What’s a blog? According to UrbanDictionary.com, it’s a term short for “web log”, a kind of online diary where people can post their thoughts for others to read. Another definition states it’s a “meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life.” Yet another definition: “a rare opportunity to broadcast one’s views to the entire world.”

UrbanDictionary.com is not a real dictionary revised by editors and printed in hardback volumes annually, but it captures the spirit of the blog more than Merriam Webster ever could. Blogs can argue the merits of peppermint versus tutti frutti toothpaste or discuss the role foreign policy will play in the 2008 presidential election. They can be read by everyone or only by a select group of people. Each entry may have two readers’ comments or 2,000.

The flexibility and the variation of blogs is part of the reason why the news industry is suffering today. Try as they might, they can’t offer the myriad of perspectives on every imaginable topic that the blogosphere serves up daily. But are blogs reliable news sources? Can they replace newspapers?

I have mixed feelings about becoming a blogger myself. On the one hand, this very form of publication may dash any chance I have for becoming a newspaper reporter after I graduate from school in two years. On the other, blogging offers the unique opportunity to reach out to a niche audience that doesn’t necessarily read newspapers.

For better or for worse, however, for the next couple of months I’ll be blogging about journalism and its relationship with the Internet. Stay tuned.