In 2004, blogger Scott Johnson posted about potential fake documents used in a CBS ’60 Minutes’ report. Within an hour of posting, Johnson’s blog skyrocketed in popularity, sending CBS into a tailspin. (To read this story in full, check out The Washington Post story for more details.)
The first 16 paragraphs of this story really highlight how bloggers and the ‘blogosphere’ contribute to the national media environment. According to the story, Johnson’s blog post set fire to mainstream media because Johnson was able to find mainstream media inconsistencies and quickly comment on them.
Charles Johnson, one of the first people to respond to Scott Johnson’s post, said that the blogosphere has “a huge pool of highly motivated people who go out there and use the tools to find stuff. We’ve got an army of citizen journalists out there.”
The pressure put on CBS by Scott Johnson and other bloggers forced CBS to fact check their report and the documents used in it proving the value of blogging. Corporate media institutions often ignore or downplay problems and bloggers are filling those holes with thoughtful and well-researched responses.
Bloggers may have an advantage over mainstream media as well. They can have large internet followings, speedy response rates and highly motivated writers. This story shows that bloggers may be the ‘Fifth Estate’. Those who check the ones who are checking the government. Media corporations, like the government, need transparency. And this breakthrough blogger moment in 2004 proves that bloggers may be the people who are filling in the gaps and checking the accuracy in mainstream media reporting.