Blogs are a powerful medium and in countries such as Iran and Syria, they are the only reliable source of information and are supplementing the established news media. As a result, journalism is rejuvenated and renewed by bloggers.

“The internet gives journalists access to citizen voices that are new and fresh, and therefore has a democratising effect,” says Nils G. Indahl, a journalist and academician.

An associate professor of journalism at the Norwegian School of Creative Studies, Norway's largest journalism school, he was in Chennai to conduct a workshop on `Latest techniques in Internet search' at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ).

In a lengthy conversation with The Hindu Education Plus, Mr. Indahl shares his ideas and opinion on digital journalism, its immense potential and impact. Excerpts:

Net, a valuable source

"Both print and digital journalists are yet to discover the power that the effective use of search engines may unleash. I have studied the evolution of digital media since 1986.

The World Wide Web has valuable sources of information that are never used by the media. Many citizens are experts in various fields and would love to take part in public debate. Journalists researching for news stories can find new and authentic sources on the net, especially in the blogosphere.

Work process

The work processes in the print and digital journalism are similar on the surface. They both involve the generation of ideas, research, presentation and evaluation. But with the evolution of digital journalism, the biggest change can be seen in researching a story. The web as a potential and reliable source of information has drastically changed the way journalists think and work.

The journalistic work process is updated and revolutionised by the digital media. Storytelling is changing drastically and the media have a range of new methods to measure reactions and feedback from the public. Together, these changes have the potential to improve the quality of all journalism.

Aware of quality

Thanks to the internet, journalists aware of the quality their work, may find and verify their stories easily at work. The readers are constantly evaluating the story published in digital media and are adding more information or pointing out mistakes or improvements. The most important change, however, is from bloggers and citizen journalists who share information and knowledge. They update news and information instantly, for example, through Twitter - a micro blogging service.

After the story has been published, journalists look for the number of hits their story has got to see how popular it is with readers. By reacting to mistakes or inaccuracies, readers help to make news stories read better and better. Such is the potential of digital journalism.

Power of blogs

Blogs are evolving into powerful medium and in countries such as Iran and Syria, blogs are the only reliable source of information. But even in India and in Europe, blogs are supplementing the established news media.

Today, it is not very uncommon to see bloggers becoming journalists or newspapers inviting bloggers to write columns.

This trend is precisely due to the immense popularity of some of the bloggers.

The biggest advantage of blogging is that it can renew journalism by bringing in new voices, ideas and concepts.

Advanced search

Learning advanced search techniques is vital for journalists. Journalists need to develop a very good understanding of how the search engines work.

Search engines are dynamic tools and can lead to new sources for news stories.

For example, when a group of students at ACJ workshop were asked to find more information on the raging Mullaiperiyar dam issue, they were able to track down authentic and well qualified information on details pertaining to various aspects of the dam and other unknown facts and figures that were shared by bloggers. Thus the students were able to come up with a very informative news story based on the information they gathered using advanced search techniques.

Vibrant and spontaneous

Only when journalists are from varied backgrounds will their work be spontaneous and enthusiastic. The reason why blogs are interesting is mainly because bloggers are from various walks of life.