Debate over blog credibility called 'a false controversy'

Although the subjects of their sites differ, L.A. Observed blogger Kevin Roderick proposed Tuesday at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication that he and Defamer‘s Mark Lisanti are probably not all that different, particularly when it comes to the journalistic sensibilities that inform their work.

At the lunch discussion “Blogging Los Angeles, from Two Very Different Perspectives,” Roderick said he doesn’t see much value in the debate about whether blogging is journalism. He said he uses the same kind of reporting skills and ethics as a blogger that he used during his long tenure as both reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Times.

Both bloggers at least partly rely on reader-supplied tips and information to carry off their own brands of insider news — Lisanti’s on each day’s happenings in Hollywood, Roderick’s on Los Angeles media, culture and politics.

Lisanti agreed with Roderick that he tries his best to confirm tips and to avoid being used by tipsters with hidden agendas by applying a “smell test and common sense.”

But Lisanti also pointed out that the Defamer reports “gossip and on gossip.”

“I try [to check things out.] I also don’t pretend that I’m authoritative or the last word on anything,” Lisanti said.

“The standards are different” for what’s written online, Roderick said, mainly because posts can be instantly updated. Roderick said he applies a sniff test too, but added that he is very comfortable posting something “partially reported” — as long as he clearly tells readers when a rumor is a rumor, for example.

Roderick stated that so far, by using his journalists’ instincts when writing for L.A. Observed, he has not had to make any major corrections.

“Many blogs are being written by journalists,” and they’re using their journalistic standards. The issue of blog credibility is “a false controversy to me,” Roderick said.

About Diana Day

By day, Diana is the Internet and Communication Technologies Coordinator at Westridge School for Girls in Pasadena, CA.

By night, Diana moonlights as the Digital Diva for the's education blog

Diana recently received her master's degree in online journalism from USC. She was managing editor of the readers' blog at Online Journalism Review.

Before attending USC, she was a schoolteacher and reading specialist for 14 years in both Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

While at USC, Diana launched two online news publications --, a magazine for parents of twins and multiples, and, a community journalism site for Sierra Madre, CA.