Are Bloggers Journalists: Are Blogs New Journalism?

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Is blogging the new form of journalism? Should bloggers be held to the same standards as the media? Those questions were asked of me recently in an email, and raise a lot of food for thought.

I don’t know that I’d say blogging is a new form of journalism, no. Blogging is certainly a newer type of writing style. Blogging and journalism aren’t exactly the same, but they achieve the same results. A blogger writes out of passion, out of an extreme interest for a particular topic. Should a blogger then be held to the same standards as the media? I don’t think so, necessarily. I guess it depends on what your definition of a journalist is, as opposed to a blogger. The only difference I can see between the two is content. They’re both there to produce content. Bloggers write because they want to. Journalists write to get paid, because it is their job.

How many times have you had this happen? I’ll get a phone call from someone who wants to interview me, or include me in a story. They’ll take up a few hours of my time, asking tons of questions. Then, of course, they use only one thing I said or the story/comments aren’t used correctly. How many times have you been watching television, and the reporter just totally gets it wrong. You’re yelling at the TV, telling the person on the program that they are wrong! It happens all the time.

This is the main difference I see between bloggers and journalists. Bloggers tend to write what they know, think and feel. Journalists are supposed to give facts, and unfortunately don’t always get them correct.

In many ways, the Blogosphere is like this huge editorial board. If a blogger comes out with something excellent, it will spread like wildfire. It will be validated. Many people feel that bloggers should be held to the same standards as the media. But… what makes “the media?” Heck, I am the media as much as anyone else is. So who draws the line? Who decides what is journalism, and what is merely blogging? Who is the boss when it comes to standards for sets of people?

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47 thoughts on “Are Bloggers Journalists: Are Blogs New Journalism?”

  1. blogging is not journalism, it’s been debated in court, but i don’t remember the court case. it was recent i believe. maybe 2005 or 2006…

  2. Yes and no. Journalists can be bloggers and bloggers can be journalists.

    I really hate it when people assume bloggers are just jackasses with a keyboard. Just like journalists, the credible and most quoted bloggers are trusted.

    Is blogging a viable career path? That remains to be seen.

  3. I’m currently doing a degree in journalism and this video is great in that regard. First reason is, now part of the journlism curriculum is that we start a blog. It’s not

  4. I’m currently doing a degree in journalism and this video is great in that regard. First reason is, now part of the journalism curriculum is that we start a blog. It’s not that blogging is the new journalism, but that blogging is now more that ever a recognized medium for journalistic writing and readership. The true difference is the paycheck, and very little more. While a journalist will not be selecting what they will write about like a blogger the passion is there for both parties.

  5. the main point at looking at blogging is the fact that its an instantaneous for of the journalism art form. You don’t have to wait for the editor to review it and then wait for the next day for it to be printed in the newspaper, its just type and click post and you’re done. That’s the new form of journalism, not so much the “blog”

  6. To the question of should bloggers be held to the same standard as more traditional forms of journalism. It’s my view that it is held to the higher standard because if you don’t like the content or nature of discourse it promotes you will not read it. Maybe it could be that we accept a lower standard in certain case from traditional forms of media because they may carry an authority that we don’t grant to bloggers and other online media sources.

  7. I’d also recommend you head over to blogumentary.org and watch “Blogumentary” – funny how we’re still talking about these issues 4+ years on, which I guess is a very good thing.

  8. I’d say bloggers are more like the new opinion columnists, instead of the new ‘journalists’. A journalist’s job is to write a balanced, factual account of factual events. A blogger, like an opinion columnist, expresses his or her own opinion.

    The difference is that bloggers don’t have to write to a deadline.

  9. The analogy I use for bloggers versus journalists goes something like this … in the same way that a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t always a square, I firmly believe that journalists can be bloggers, but the converse is far less true. To be clear, when I say “journalist” I am not necessarily referring to someone who’s worked at a “real” media outlet. To the contrary, there are many people who operate as bloggers who have stronger journalistic ethos than some “professionals.”

    To me, the title is less about whether someone went to J-School or worked at a traditional newspaper, magazine or broadcast organization.

    To me, the title is about execution, ethics and integrity.

  10. It was another blogger who asked you the question? Ignore his question! Better still, mark it spam! 😉

    I’d say Bloggers are journalists. Any blogger writing about something other than their personal life is a journalist – the world just hasn’t caught up with that yet.

    I don’t think you can use ‘motivated by passion’ as a point of differentiation since most journalists are just as passionate about their topics as bloggers and on a pure “pages served” basis I am certain there are more blogs published with earning money in mind than those only motivated by passion, it’s just that the revenue earned by each is much smaller.

    Likewise ‘paid to write’ doesn’t distinguish between them since many bloggers are now salaried employees working for a blog network or with blogging as a major part of their job.

    Bloggers are held to the same expectations as journalists any time they get their facts wrong. It just takes someone mentioned in the story to care enough about their sullied reputation to take it to court.

    Do journalists have to do a better job than bloggers? Be more thorough? Be less biased? Hehe, have you watched Fox News, ever? There’s a huge overlap in the quality of work.

    Do journalists never editorialise? Put a personal opinion as the main point of a piece? Try to influence the opinion of others rather than just report the facts? Of course they do – it’s called an “editorial” or an “opinion piece.”

    In summary, if you don’t think you’re being held to the same standard as journalists, it just means you haven’t written about something important enough yet. Write something really new, that’s newsworthy, high-stakes or controversial, and I can guarantee that you’ll be held to the same standard.

  11. Chris: It’s natural to start with text-based comparisons, but if we throw out the medium I think talk radio hosts are the closest analogy to bloggers. Most bloggers just happen to be microcasters and the comparison becomes even more obvious when the blogger starts recording their thoughts in podcasts.

    Just as talk radio hosts are celebrities (at varying levels of geo/niche celebrity), bloggers carry the same fame/persuasion with their loyal core of readers.

    Learning from the radio talk show model also avoids plowing well-plowed ground as it relates to balancing journalism, opinions, and sponsorship. Heck, even the radio call-in concept mirrors the comments/discussions we enjoy so much on blogs…

  12. I think you’re right Chris. It depends on what your definition of a journalist is. Is what you’re posting newsworthy? Do you have a strong audience following you in what you say? Do you take on topics that aren’t just of your main interest but also the ones that could be described as somewhat controversial in the eyes of the public? Do you have a lawyer or lawyers standing by ready to back you up in case you get into some trouble for something you print? Should you have? Should I really have to worry about that when I’m blogging? Is it my job as a blogger to find out if the information that I’m about to post is 100% fact, lest I get sued?
    I don’t know. That’s really a loaded question because there’s really three questions stuffed in there.

    1) Are bloggers journalists?

  13. I don’t believe bloggers are journalists as journalism takes some skill, however I do believe they play a fairly important role in providing sometimes useful or interesting information, via the web.

    I have a blog and also do some journalism work. they do not cross.

  14. I always considered journalist as writers. Maybe this is because my father was a journalism major, who went on to being an editor. So this meant that he was putting his thoughts more into his writing than by speaking to groups of people.
    On the other hand I am sure it is possible to be a journalist and choose to speak to the public instead of just putting your articles out there for other to read. I believe this does not make you any less of a journalist. It also gives you a chance to reach those who would prefer to listen to someone views. By being able to hear the person speak you are able to get the feeling if he is passionate about what he is speaking about, of course with a good journalist you should be able to tell by their writing also. It also lets the journalist reach a wider audience.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your video, and believe that you brought up an very interesting question.
    Mag

  15. It’s true that “everyone is entitled to an opinion.” Ethical people express opinions and identify them as such. Unethical people color their writing with their prejudices, and do not clearly indicate where they’re coming from. One informs, the other deceives.

    I think what we call it is far less important than the issue of integrity.

    If I am blogging about my own opinions and feelings, and am clear about the fact, then it doesn’t matter what I write. It’s whatever is happening inside my own head, and people are forewarned.

    When, however, I set myself up as some sort of authority, or quote other “authorities,” then I take on ethical responsibilities: reporting accurate, properly-attributed and carefully researched information to the best of my ability.

    If I purport to do the above, and do not do so, then I’m simply lazy, and a liar.

  16. What Cathy said …

    A journalist can be a blogger, but a blogger is most often not a journalist. Many (most?) traditional journalists have made a significant investment in their careers, in educational and financial terms. There is no barrier to entry with blogging.

    The real change will come as more and more traditional journalists learn the ropes and throw down the shackles of their corporate employment to strike out (in a positive way) on their own.

    There are those in MSM that view the horde of great unwashed bloggers as metaphor mixing barbarians at the gate. And then there are those that look to the horde for their leads, as a shield against the endless march of deadlines …

  17. As someone who’s done journalism for several decades and blogging for several years — besides just about every other form of writing known to god — the main difference is that a reporter operates within a structure. Whether salaried, free-lance or even volunteer, the reporter has to satisfy an editor or a broadcast news director, who in turn has to satisfy a publisher or station owner, plus (in most cases) influential colleagues responsible for bringing in ad revenue.

    A blogger, by contrast, stands alone, free to originate his or her own “assignments” and to set the blog’s policies and style standards. Most are essayists, writing op-ed material. There’s little hard news on blogs (the who/what/where/why/when stories), since few bloggers cover events first-hand as reporters do. However, some excellent interview-based features are being done by news-oriented bloggers. (I’m thinking particularly of the “Raw Story” series by Larissa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane on the persecution of Don Siegelman, beginning at http://rawstory.com/news/2007/The_Permanent_Republican_Majority_1125.html .)

    When I blog, I observe certain traditions of journalistic and academic writing, such as documenting statements of fact, but I believe most blogs derive their appeal from an original voice and vantage. It’s rather like finding a movie reviewer whose taste is so similar to yours that you know you’ll profit from what s/he has to say.

  18. “Bloggers tend to write what they know, think and feel. Journalists are supposed to give facts, and unfortunately don’t always get them correct.”
    Reality is simpler than that. A journal is a physical place where a person writes how they WISH the universe could be, not necessarily how it really is. Blogs are written with electrons, not ink. In our postmodern world, our major network (mainstream) newsfolk give their slant on how they view the world. The biggest difference is that the news on tv is OLD or recycled – and often there is not much difference between the 500 satellite channels. Blogs *can* be unique in their vantage point, and many are. Both bloggers and journalists skew reality and “get facts wrong”. That is why a truly open mind will get news from many sources. It is also why print and TV news media is failing: we are tired of lies.

  19. LOLOLOL omfg i said nerd ltos and some junk and i got -7! lol it got removed!!!!!!lollololol u look like my science teacher chriss…. and…. his anme is chris too lololol nerd nerd ner dnerd nerd!!!!!!lolololololoololollololooloolololOLOLOLolOLoOololOLoOLoOoOOolOLolOoL0L0LOO0O0L0ol0Oo0lo00OO0Llo0LO0O0lo0OL0o0O0o0O0ol0o0O0o0O0o0lO0O0ol0OL0ol0OL0ol0OL0O0lo0lOL0ol0OL0ol0OL0o0lO0Lo0lOL0ol0OL0ol0OL0ol0O0Lo0lO0ol0OL0ol0OL00olO0Lo0lOL0o0lO0Lol0LO0lo00LO0Lo0LOOL0l

    lol

  20. I am not sure how it works in the US but in Canada if you put it in print it’s Libel. Meaning if I write it I am responsible for the things I wrote. So should we make comments or accusations that could harm another’s stature or even hate mail. we could face legal problems,

  21. I used to study journalism. I wrote for school papers and magazines. Then one day I woke up and realized I didn’t enjoy what I was doing anymore. I was being told what to write about and had no interest in it. Basically this is the main difference between journalism and blogging to me. Journalism is there to inform others and the reporters get PAID to do it. Blogging however, I feel comes from the heart. People blog to inform sometimes but are definitely not getting paid for it. Well, the might…but not usually. I realized I wanted to write, but I wanted to write about what I love, not what I was paid to do. Bloggers shouldn’t be held in the same high standards as journalism because they are not paid to write. Also, people tend to rely on journalism on critical information and it must be upheld as a certain truth. Bloggers are often based on more opinions.

    I ramble. It’s okay. It’s that writer in me.

  22. blogger can be like journolist or our futrue journolist it
    depends on the person who blogs
    its more of the persons opinion but
    i would rather be called a blogger

  23. As a professional journalist (not in the USA, a graduated journalist, I mean), I can honestly tell you the differences are enormous.

    Any citizen can become a blogger these days, and everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    A journalist, on the other hand, is not only paid — he/she could even go unpaid, it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. The difference lies in criteria, it’s in the eye and in the intention. After being properly trained, a journalist has to use criteria to be bound to: conduct an interview the right way, separate fact from factoid (most people would never know this), know actual news from gossip or trivia or speculation (ditto), write properly (when most people will just write, and using bad grammar/spelling), and, at least where I live, to be acknowledged as part of the press and not just citizen acting like press. I mean all this in an ideal situation, of course, assuming that most areas of human knowledge are infested by really bad professionals and that the rules vary between countries and cultures.

    To be a proper journalist who knows what they’re doing, training (or vast experience, or a diploma) is paramount. Otherwise, you’re just trusting anyone else’s word as true or well-tought and balanced — again, talking here in ideal terms. But, if not idealistically, then you imagine it’s even narrower a qualification, not the opposite: what does it take to be considered not only a journalist, but a GOOD one?

    As for bloggers, you’ll find the most insulting, unbalanced and pretty much wrong-to-the-facts posts floating around. To consider every sort of blogging as journalism would be, at best, stupid generalization. Blogging CAN BE an instrument for journalism, depending on who’s writing. Blogging as the future of journalism per se is an absurd notion (sorry, Academia), and would mean the absolute end of all proper journalism, good or bad.

  24. I can not say I am a good writer in the English language, but I hate seeing a blog with only pictures on it. They take longer to load in my opinion. If all I want to post is pictures then I open a web gallery instead. I hear picasa is a good. These bloggers are degrading all those that want more than just a fresh look at someone’s behind. At least tell the audience why you think that behind is that special in a paragragh or two, before taking such bold move.

  25. Sorry to say, blogging is not journalism. I agree with what Rod had to say and jus to add i think Blogging is just giving us, ordinary people, a chance to voice our opinions that we are entitled to. The things you find in blogs are sometimes absurd!

  26. How the world has moved on since this item was posted. Growth of hyperlocal blogs (like ours) and a dying print media. Much of what is said, including in comments, is certainly still holding true. But journalists are seeing the value in self-publishing and many are giving blogs a fresh credibility.

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