Another fight between the mainstream media and bloggers erupted last week when the AP threatened to sue bloggers (in particular The Drudge Retort) for quoting from AP stories and linking to them. AP’s contention is that bloggers are going past the limits of “fair use”.
While The Source understands the Associated Press’ desire to protect their copyrighted material, we have to question their heavy handed approach to doing so. Bloggers may not be journalists the way the AP (and others) would like them to be, but bloggers are fast becoming a critical part of the fourth estate, filling in the gaps where the mainstream media has not, or will not, cover stories. Bloggers are also fast becoming a watchdog over the press, something the press has never had to deal with in the past. Perhaps that is what concerns the AP the most.
Arguably the biggest difference between the blogs and the mainstream media today is the diversity of format. Regardless of the content, all newspapers look the same and have the same basic purpose. All television news shows and networks have the same basic format and purpose. But blogs are creative. Some are news breaking. Some are opinion and editorial driven. Some are portals, compiling news from other sources. Some are analytical. Some are just humorous looks at world events. Each of those goes beyond what the AP and its mainstream brethren offer.
The Source hopes that the AP backs off their initial bravado, and it seems they are now inclined to do so. The mainstream media will need to learn to work with bloggers, not fight them, if they want to continue to be relevant to all audiences.