No “smackdown” needed between journalists and bloggers, panelists say

Despite the grabby title, there wasn’t much “smackdown” between journalists and bloggers Saturday afternoon, after one LA Times masthead editor said “maybe we’re over the us versus them thing.”

The title of the panel, “Smackdown: Journalism vs. Blogging,” having been partially debunked from the outset, Gil Asakawa moderated a panel that included acclaimed bloggers Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man) Adam Chau, of Slant Eye for the Round Eye, Alden Habacon of Schema Magazine and Henry Fuhrmann of the Los Angeles Times.

In front of a packed room, the conversation evolved into an open forum for representatives of different media to weigh in on how the advent of blogging effects journalism, and vice versa.

“Yesterday’s news for tomorrow is a way toward extinction,” said Fuhrmann, the newspaper editor. Through he also cautioned, “We had five blog posts about National Donut Day.”

The panelists discussed the pros and cons of blogging versus publishing in traditional media. Habacon and others said that in the beginning, technology and blogging served as the “great equalizer,” helping to make “smaller voices bigger.” He said blogs offer a forum for more personalized content, too.

“You can send a journalist to a place they don’t want to be at,” Habacon said. “A blogger usually won’t go to a place they don’t want to be at.”

Chau echoed that sentiment and took it a step further. He recently wrote a post on Asian American genitalia.

“I will talk about anything I want (on the blog),” he said. “You have the ability to do that.”

But for some, like Yu, who has been running his blog for more than a decade, the passion project can sometimes feel like work. With more readers than ever, Yu said the blog sometimes feels like a “responsibility.” He still gets a lot of pleasure from his work, but acknowledged, “At times it feels like I’m chained to this monster I’ve created.”

Eleven years later, he still does not allow comments on his blog.

“I hate comments, man,” Yu said. “Have you ever been to a newspaper comment site and think, ‘Man, I hate people?’ ”

And for all the work and the occasionally nasty emails he receives, Yu was ready when “Lin-Sanity” struck in early 2012. When the former New York Knicks star started pouring in the points, Jeremy Lin appeared in all forms of mainstream media, including the cover of Sports Illustrated, twice.

Consequently, February became the best month ever for Yu’s blog. Yu could contribute a unique perspective, and readers from all over couldn’t get enough.

“This is no longer just our story,” he thought. “It belongs to everybody.”

Matt Stevens, V3con blogger

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