The commodification of news was a key theme underlying the sometimes contentious talk about blogging at the ONA conference. Instead of asking “Why pay for news?” the pro-blogging speakers asked, “Why pay for edited news?” In a keynote speech, Web log pioneer Andrew Sullivan declared that newspaper op-ed columnists would eventually be replaced by online bloggers such as himself.
Some editors among the ONA speakers were not so ready to concede their irrelevance. “Down with blogging,” Retha Hill, vice president for content at BET.com, said when asked for a final sound bite on one panel. Yet, Hill said the problem with many news Web sites is they do not allow for the two-way interactive dialogue that Web users want.
Even the most avid news junkies accessing the Web do not want to deal with the massive amounts of information without help, added Ruth Gersh, editorial director of The Associated Press’ AP Digital: “They don’t want to have to sift through it, so there is still a need for, dare I say it, editorial judgement.”