Bloggers, mass media earn trust differently

Earlier this week I stumbled into conversation with Catherine McMillan a Canadian women who maintains a blog called Small Dead Animals. She wrote back at one point:

“SDA is a hobby – the fact that it’s drawn over 6 million visits in 3 years, and some of the most loyal regular readers in the blogosphere (including many leaders in Canadian media) is what underlies SDA’s ability to push traffic. Why? My readers trust me. They may not always agree with my point of view, but they read what I link to. How many in mainstream media can say that?”

I wrote back:

“The point you make about trust is crucial. You are a person. You have a voice and a center and, in a comforting way, perhaps, a predictibility. Those traits help create what I think of as habit and you call trust. It is so much harder to do that inside a corporate media structure such as my day job because the “voice” must be a filtered or homogenized.

“That is the standard of quality or brand that has been mass media’s hallmark. As someone on the inside of mass media by day I think the happy medium is to let paid newsies develop blogs that would be more the quick-fire ethos of the blogosphere, and which would allow beat reporters to develop conversations among the people who care on any given issue. More depth and passion, in other words, in online news.

“And then the print editors could read through their own blogs, skim the best stuff, look for patterns, generally use those reporter-generated blogs as a central nervous system down into the communities they cover. That could be a process to develop the trust which the blogger earns by virtue of his or her humanity inside an industrial news-gathering system that desperately needs to plug back into everyday concerns. “