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.


Phoenix said...

Good points but did you know that most professional journlist do reiterate someone else's story? The reporters at the ABA Journal relies on other sources for their stories and not too many if any story written by their reporters are based on first hand accounts by their reporters. In fact most major news papers and TV news stations are reporting on news obtained from other sources like the Associated Press or government sources. So, based on what you are saying even the so-called real journlist are not real. :)

RockStories said...

Phoenix, I get your point, but I honestly wouldn't consider most of what goes on at a place like the ABA Journal "journalism". That's not to say that it's less valuable or anything like that--it's undoubtedly higher level writing that requires a higher level of understanding and analysis than most journalism. Definitely professionals...professional writers, professional analysts...yes. Journalists? Not in my mind.

In the case of the AP, the AP reporters/stringers who are out there gathering the news and getting the quotes are the journalists. Newspapers are generally a mix of stories obtained this way and those actually researched by the writer(s). Reprinting an AP story doesn't make you a journalist, even if you reprint it on the front page of the NY Times...and reading one doesn't make you a journalist, even if you do it on network news.

B.L. said...

As I see it the issue is more has blogging replaced journalism as our primary source of "news".
This is fine as long as the reader is willing to do their due diligence and confirm the information from other sources.
Unfortunately, if 90% of the other sources are merely spreading the same rumor, then how do we know what is true?
This is not to suggest that traditional journalism is above such rumor mongoring and rush to publish.
As readers no matter where we get our "facts" it is eseential that we apply our own judgement when determining what is true.

Shirley said...

Lol! :) I'm in the middle of a debate I didn't know about! To settle some of the debate kind of, probably not. I went to school for journalism. I've worked with non-profit studios. Yes, journalist do take stories from other journalists but they also research. If I were to write a post on how my baby pooped everywhere that's not journalism. However, if I wrote a post on say Senator Kennedy's views on community sservice providing proof of what I say that's journalism.

Torch Bearers said...

Nice post.
I have ready many books, novels and aticles from time to time

I strongly think that all bloggers are not journalist but there are many others have been inspired by journalists and experiences in their own pursuits who can put in all in a nutshell for others to relish...