Are bloggers destroying journalism as we know it?

The founder of Audiocafe has started a brush fire in the blogosphere with his comments about bloggers being "intellectual yahoos and digital thieves." His views, which appear to be antithetical to those of most people in Silicon Valley, are admittedly "not designed to be particularly fair or balanced." The hyperbolic title of his new book, "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing our Culture," paints the 'net as nothing more than a home for larcenous hooligans bent on the destruction of society.

Here is one of the book's claims:

"Millions and millions of exuberant monkeys ... are creating an endless digital forest of mediocrity."

'Amateur' charge infuriates blogosphere (CNN)

The issue of bloggers got even muddier on June 14th, when the Bush administration attacked the proposed "Free Flow of Information Act," which would protect "anyone engaged in journalism" from having to identify their sources except in cases where crimes have been committed, when such an act could harm national security, and in a few other cases. However, blogging continues to gain popularity among all groups of people and even seniors, a group historically underrepresented in new technology trends. In fact, in early 2005, it was estimated that more than 10% of Internet users had contributed to an online diary of some kind.

Bush administration attacks 'shield' for bloggers (CNET)

Blog Statistics (IT Blog)

Web savvy seniors embrace blogs (MSNBC)

I, as an IT professional, tend to believe that technology helps to improve things in most cases. Technology has made us the most productive workers in the world, has opened up new opportunities for anyone willing to put in the work, and has certainly put a dent into the readership and viewership of the "traditional" media. I believe that in an era where the line between journalism and entertainment is muddy, independent journalists are vital to make sure that important news stories are covered. CNN recently talked about Paris Hilton's return to jail for an entire day, even though several other stories with more real impact should have received air time.

I remember when the same kinds of debates were going on regarding television. I recall newspapers' claims that TV news "dumbed down" the events of the day, as a half-hour news program simply could not go into the same kind of depth as the printed media. However, it is difficult for me to see the same argument, given the richness and depth of Internet media. Blogs aren't even just for Internet journalists any more. I am implementing blogs at work in an effort to more fully document job descriptions and daily duties.

Are Internet bloggers worthy of the same kinds of protections as other journalists? Do you agree with the founder of Audiocafe, or do you think bloggers serve a purpose? Do you put more trust into the mainstream media or has their propensity to entertain rather than inform turned you off? Join the discussion.