By Kevin O'Keefe

Law bloggers or journalists : Who are more credible?

20130223-180758.jpg Commenting on recent debate on the credibility of bloggers (guys in pajamas) versus mainstream media (pedigree of journalism degree), kicked off by Ken at Popehat’s ‘Blogging: Compared to What?’ New York Attorney, Scott Greenfield (@scottgreenfield),

It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content every created. If a lawyer writes something incorrect or foolish, there are innumerable similarly educated and experienced people out in the ether to correct him, whether kindly or by ripping his lungs out. Either way, words put out for public consumption are subject to criticism from all quarters. Why not?

This is a good thing. No, a great thing. With every post, we either pass muster with our peers or get ripped to shreds. And that’s how good though triumphs over ignorance and stupidity. It’s different for non-lawyers who write about the law and post inaccurate and utterly insane nonsense. If people choose to get their legal information and analysis from non-lawyer self-proclaimed nutjobs, that’s their choice. It’s a big internet, and there is a point of view that confirms everyone’s, no matter how wrong.

But when it comes to law, whose deep and thoughtful views would merit greater credibility: those of a lawyer with significant experience in the field, or those of a kid journalist who was doing the Trend beat two weeks ago and became an overnight expert because a credible news source handed him the keys to their crime beat?

You can count on Greenfield for bringing some color to his posts, but he’s right about law bloggers having more credibility when reporting on the law than journalists.

If you’re engaging your target audience, including other lawyers, in your blog posts, you’ll get seen. You’ll start to be followed by blogging lawyers and other folks. These followers will start to cite your blog and call you ought when they disagree or think you’re wrong.

Unlike a law review or magazine article when peer review comes in 6 months, a year, or never, peer review comes from blog posts, Twitter, or LinkedIn, in an hour two. Real time peer review from fellow practicing lawyers.

I’ve always thought lawyers who have practiced for years in a niche were more credible than a journalist calling a couple of lawyers and getting half of what the lawyers said correct or not having the space to convey a lawyer’s point.

I’ll take insight and commentary from the person who’s where the rubber meets the road (representing real people in real situations) as compared to someone who has not practiced law for years or ever.

The copy may not be as polished, especially in the case of yours truly, but the meat is there. And no one will mistake Greenfield or I for Jeffery Toobin on television, but moore often than not our insight is sound.

Greenfield and I aren’t alone. In-counsel are more apt to read a law blog penned by a practicing lawyer than a blog published by a journalist. In addition, 84% of in-house counsel find law blogs as credible resources for legal insight and commentary.

You’ll see the line between blogs and mainstream media narrow in the coming years as the number of journalist shrinks and the public’s demand for information on the most niche subjects increases. When it comes to the law, law blogs are going to cover the niches — and cover them well.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Emily Dickinson

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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