Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blogging as Journalism, Part I

I've seen a lot of discussion in online forums (especially blogging forums, of course) recently about whether or not bloggers should be treated as journalists. There are almost as many views on this subject as there are blogs, but mine is pretty straightforward: if you're conducting interviews, finding credible, first-hand sources and generating original news and feature stories, you're a journalist. If you're rehashing what you've found on someone else's news site or in the newspaper or telling us about your experience with the auto mechanic this morning and how much you're dreading your visit to Great Aunt Sarah, you're not acting as a journalist in that moment. That doesn't mean YOU'RE not a journalist, but that particular action isn't journalism.

This is a big topic that I expect to span several posts, but this morning I wanted to focus on someone outside the usual debate. We're accustomed to hearing from bloggers who want (demand?) to be treated as journalists, but it seems that all the while there are bloggers out there quietly acting as journalists without ever thinking to stop and fuss about what they're called.

I ran across a great example this morning, in the form of a recent interview with Lisa Smith-Batchen. This kind of thing is unfortunately relatively uncommon on blogs--the blogger conducted and published an actual interview with a woman who happened to appear this morning on the Today show. She didn't have a media operation or a budget or a press pass...she just went out and found the information, directly, and shared it with her readers. If more bloggers--especially those who purport to be dealing in news--were to take that initiative, maybe the perception of blogging and bloggers would improve on its own and we wouldn't have to spend all this time debating whether or not we should be considered credible.