They don't have to write personal journals or reveal anything about their private lives: they've been asked to blog interesting stories in the area of online journalism and new media, which may be a bit self-referential but is at least relevant to the course.But it's not just about Thompson's curriculum, he truly believes that blogs are having a real effect on journalism.
So it's more like John Naughton's Memex 1.1 than Belle de Jour's confessions.
The idea is to give them a better understanding of how the technology works, and show them just how easy it is to publish online even if you have no idea how the web works or what HTML is.
But the real point of getting a journalist blogging at this early stage in his or her career is that the bloggers, in all their variety, with all their different skills and abilities and interests and biases, are reshaping the world in which professional journalists operate just as much as the telephone shook up the profession in the first half of the 20th Century.While bloggers have been saying for quite a while that we are having an effect on real-life journalism, there haven't been too many instances where folks on the "other side" have admitted as much. I have my doubts about whether a small blog like mine has any effect - except for days like Friday when I was mentioned in the Dauo Report on Slate.com, my readership is so small that it's unlikely to ever be read by a real reporter. But with more and more of the big blogs being mentioned in the "real media," it's hard to deny that there is some synergy. And of course there are those who've made the transition from blogging on their own to working for the media, essentially getting a pay check for doing what they had done for free.
The real test in the near future will be for those larger bloggers - those still independent from the media-corporate conglomerates - to maintain their independence and their own voices even as they become more important in the wider world of journalism. And incrementally I would imagine that a whole new model of journalism will develop, one that combines old-style reporting with the connectedness and interactivity of blogging.
In the meantime, it's nice to see academia take us seriously.