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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Blogs vie with news for eyeballs
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Can blogs sit alongside traditional media?
Bloggers are gaining a higher profile alongside traditional news sources with Yahoo including blogs in its expanding news search system.

The decision could reignite the debate over what constitutes news reporting and whether blogs are as valuable a source of news as that from professional journalists.

So-called citizen journalists are increasingly dominating the headlines.

User-generated content has proved invaluable in breaking news stories.

Yahoo sees its plans, which will include photos from users, as enriching the news for everyone.

Trusted sources

"Traditional media doesn't have the time and resources to cover all the stories," said Jeff Redfern, product director for Yahoo Search.

Weblogs are a community of self-published sites which cover a range of topics from the personal to the political. They have proved their worth as news sources in recent times, perhaps most notably following Hurricane Katrina.

We do try to demarcate what is mainstream media and what is user-generated content
Jeff Redfern, Yahoo Search
People turned to blogs in their droves as the offices of mainstream media outlets shut up shop after the floods in New Orleans.

The BBC News website used pictures and video sent in by the public in its coverage of the 7 July tube and bus bombings.

Pete Clifton, editor of the BBC News website, thinks blogs have a valuable role to play.

"Embracing the value of what people know, and what they are saying, should be central to the proposition of any news site these days," he said.

"Giving readers easy access to what is being said by bloggers is another way of doing this.

"I don't believe blogs will eclipse trusted sources of news journalism like the BBC, but the two things can live very happily together, as long as readers are clear which is which," he added.

Importance of blogs

The Yahoo search system is not about blurring the lines between professionally edited news and that from blogs.

Readers will initially be given links to the top 10 stories from mainstream news organisations, alongside links to relevant blog entries.

"We do try to demarcate what is mainstream media and what is user-generated content," said Mr Redfern.

Leading web firms are beginning to sit up and take notice of blogs. In September search engine Google unveiled its own blog search engine.

At the beginning of October, AOL agreed to buy leading web journal firm Weblogs Inc.

According to blog search and indexing site Technorati, there are more than 17 million weblogs currently available online.


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