Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Can a Blog be a Primary Source?

I subscribe to several blogs, and I try my best to read them with some dedication. Some of the blogs I read are written by past students, and one in particular, by a recent Eighth Floor scholar and graduate of the Online Learning Series, Dana Sterling. Her blog is called, SterlingLikeSilver, So, okay, great blog, and it’s just like her: smart, energetic, and insightful.

In a recent post,
We're only as good as our sources, Dana discusses the idea of blogging – more specifically, what is it and its value. Her discussion has to do with blogs and their place in journalism. For example,

“There are some stories that are best told via TV. But. As a viewer, I didn't want Diane Sawyer to show me what happened after the tsunami in Indonesia. I wanted the reporter to step out of the frame and let the people that were actually there when it happened speak to me. I didn't want Ms. Sawyer's over-interpreted version of the event, or her emotional response. I wanted her sources.”
In the world of education, this becomes an even bigger question than that of style or palatability. I think Dana is taking us here - certainly challenging us to think about it. Right now, not in the future, now, educators are tasked with being AND helping our students become critical filters of information. (Explore this “filter” idea more in Will Richardson’s post “
A Publish Then Filter World”). There are a lot of new resources out there, and not all of them come from “traditional” sources. How do we deal with that?

So, here’s an essential question: How DO you deal with these non-traditional sources? Would you allow or even encourage your students to use a blog as a primary source? What about a secondary source? What are your “filters”?

Lee Anne


Dana Sterling said...

Hi, Lee Anne, and thanks for the kind words, and I'm so glad that that post sparked you thinking.

I'm gonna go ahead and respond, as a teacher and as a journalist.... I do think blogs are useful as primary sources. I think students can use them as appropriate.

To me, that's not really the question at all.

The question is, who is the blogger? What are his/her credentials? What is his purpose in writing? How knowledgeable is he? In my opinion, it's not the medium that matters so much but what we do with it. Blogs CAN be journalism. It's just that usually, they aren't, because journalism should involved a degree of fact-checking and a commitment to objectivity that blogs, like columns, usually don't include.

Thanks again!

Lee Anne said...

Great list of criterion.

Lee Anne

Lee Anne said...


Great list of CRITERIA.

(criteri, cirterias, criterions. You say tomato . . . )