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LA Times Book Fest: To the Blogosphere and Beyond!

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Saturday’s “New Media: Blogging and Beyond” panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books found bloggers Hugh Hewitt (pictured), Kevin Roderick and Jill Leovy deliberating over the merits of print vs. e-media. The panel was moderated by RJ Smith, a senior editor at Los Angeles magazine.

“I got into it because I hate editors,” said Hewitt, blogger at HughHewitt.com and author of Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That is Changing Your World.

“Blogging allows me to do something I was trying to do at the paper for years,” said Leovy, who is the force behind the Times Homicide Blog. “I started the blog because I didn’t want to cover news anymore. I wanted to cover non-news, and the paper doesn’t have space for that anymore.”

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Roderick, the man behind the mighty media watchdog blog L.A. Observed, commented on the transition from print to blogging. “I had to make a transition, learn to put more of myself in the writing ⎯ even in print because I think readers are hungering for much more of a connection with the writers and journalists they read.”

Smith also asked the panelists if they thought there should a set of guidelines for bloggers to adhere to, whether voluntary or not. Hewitt and Roderick pooh-poohed the idea, adding that standards will simply be maintained in response to readers’ expectations and demands, while Leovy proposed that blogging needs to respect journalistic ethics that have been built over the years. (No comment on how we wade through that mess.)

Roderick also offered that he doesn’t publish comments anymore on his site, but the discussion never fully came around to how powerful voices in the blogosphere should maintain high standards without the checks and balances of varied input. Roderick did say he has no problem posting preliminary information and changing it as the story develops.

The hint was that the truth might be better served in this new age of rawness and immediacy. “The old media are like the confederacy,” said Hewitt. “I don’t trust most of mainstream media to tell me the facts. I wanna read the memo, what actually happened, not have someone tell me in Timespeak. We need to start thinking about how to change in time so this golden age of information helps spur a golden age of journalism.”

photo by Nikki Bazar