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Summary:

A topic has been discussed recently by a bunch of A-list bloggers that crops up from time to time as apparently these A-list bloggers are a bit obsessed by it.  The conversation deals with whether bloggers are journalists and how bloggers should act if so.  I […]

BloggerA topic has been discussed recently by a bunch of A-list bloggers that crops up from time to time as apparently these A-list bloggers are a bit obsessed by it.  The conversation deals with whether bloggers are journalists and how bloggers should act if so.  I know this is a bit off-topic for jkOnTheRun but it keeps coming up and I want to share my thoughts on it.  Now I know that these A-list bloggers will not even see this as they only read each other but here goes anyway.  First of all I understand why these bloggers are concerned about it as there comes a certain level of responsibility when a blogger gets outspoken enough to get a big audience.  With a public forum comes a level of awareness with what the blogger says that means the blogger should act with an appropriate deportment whether he/she likes it or not.

I don’t particularly worry about whether I should be considered a journalist or not.  I have been referred to as a journalist by main-stream media (MSM) for what that’s worth but I don’t really care.  You see the way I view it it doesn’t matter if the blogger thinks he/she is a journalist or not.  It also doesn’t matter if MSM thinks the blogger is a journalist or not either.  The only group that matters at all is the readers.  Yes, these bloggers should only worry what their readers think of them, not each other.  With a public forum comes a big responsibility in what bloggers say and do.  A few simple rules that I follow would go a long way to alleviating the concern in the minds of the A-listers.

  1. Always tell the truth.  It doesn’t matter how trivial the topic or how serious.  The truth will set you free and keep you that way.
  2. Opinions matter but only if they are clearly identified as such.  Don’t pass opinions off as fact and your readers will keep trusting what you say.
  3. Never quote a statistic without revealing the source.  Bloggers are starting to fall into the same pit that MSM journalists often fall into by quoting some arcane statistic that is meaningless.  Let the reader decide if the source means it’s a reliable statistic or not.

These rules may seem to be simple common sense as they are but they are violated so much every single day by bloggers and even MSM journalists.  Trust is earned and must be kept and these rules will help see that it lives.  Trust is the key ingredient in the relationship between bloggers and their readers and is not guaranteed nor should it be.  Earn it with the truth and you’ll keep it a long, long time.  Until you violate one of these rules and your intentions start getting questioned.  That’s my take on it, anyway.

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  1. You bring up a great topic and I think it is relevant. I like the rules you posted, but I would want to go a step further and propose that a set of standards be employed.

    Too often we see bloggers make a post, for example, then react harshly to comments. Or blogs that use and/or quote from other sources without linking them. Is it a good idea to post a negative review? Some say no, others want to post their honest opinions. Which is correct? Most of this should be common sense, but since blogging is a relatively new form of media, the rules are a bit different than MSM, and there are practically no barriers to entry, so nearly anyone can blog.

  2. Should bloggers be held to the standard of journalists?

    Depends on what the “purpose” of the blog is.

    If you wish to inform folks of the facts, and report things “as-is”, then I would suggest you conduct yourself to a journalistic standard.

    If your goal is to inform, entertain, and proudly state your opinions, perhaps the standard is not “journalist” as it would be “talk-show/radio” host.

    I don’t think people look at the two as anywhere close to the same “standard”. Think of Rush Limbaugh vs Tom Brokaw…

    Neat topic, though…

  3. Jose R. Ortiz Friday, March 21, 2008

    1 a: a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium b: a writer who aims at a mass audience

    That is the definition provided by the Merriam-Webster dictionary (m-w.com). Based on this definition, a blogger would be considered a journalist and should have the responsibility of any other type of journalist. Although you may not worry about it James, I think it has affected you too. I recall your post from your arrival at CES this year when they had classified you as a “blogger” which limited your access in some ways. It’s obvious that MSM is trying to differentiate the classification of blogger and journalist which I don’t agree with. We have seen evidence of how influential a blog can be. I’m sure we all recall the story that Ryan Block posted on Engadget about Apple that caused the stock price to tumble. Ryan took as much heat on that story as any MSM publication would have taken, if not more. Sure, some blogs may be more of a personal diary while others focus on news, but at the end of the day, bloggers, or any type of writer for that matter, carry the same responsibility as any MSM contributor.

  4. Honestly, I can care less what my readers think as well. The blog is for me and if people like it, and participate with comments, bonus points. I don’t blog for fame or fortune.. it’s all fun for me.
    I don’t think I should be considered a journalist either.. but if it gets me into CES, sure I’ll take it.
    I link to sources not because I’m afraid I’ll offend my readers. I link because it’s respectful to give props to the person who put in the time to write the blog post and should be given credit.

  5. As a reader, I’d like the author to explore multiple perspectives and provide insights without putting forth an underlying agenda. The author may remain objectively neutral (in the traditional journalistic sense), or offer personal opinion and perspective — as long as motives are transparent and full disclosure is provided.

    FYI: The following article describes the infiltration of advertising videos into local news broadcasts.
    http://machinist.salon.com/feature/2008/03/19/true_enough_excerpt_3/index.html

  6. Steve ‘Chippy’ Paine Friday, March 21, 2008

    ‘A-Listers’ What a horrible expression for what is effectively a bunch of cronies located in a small part of California!

    Steve.

  7. Steve: Yep I cringe every time I read/hear that term. The Bay Area stinks anyway.

    James: Which A-listers are you talking about anyway?

  8. Why are you guys so held up on this? I mean dont get me wrong but isn’t this just a hobby? James I know you work for big oil and Kevin (not sure what you do). So why even worry. As long as people visit your site that’s all that matters.

  9. JK.. Don’t take offense, but I do classify you as a journalist rather than an informed member of the public.

    I go to sites like the BBC, CNN and JK on the Run to find news of interest in one place.
    You and your contributers on the other hand have to find all the articles of interest and take the effort to bring it all together. You create the news.

    Your site heralds the best of what journalism should be…You say it as it is without particular bias, and people obviously respect this sites opinions.

    I think of JK on ther Run as being the Reuters of the technology world, as opposed to so many others who tend to act more like the Weather Channel.

  10. No.

    NO!!!

    (Sorry, I was assuming that your headline was asking a real question.)

    Seriously though, journalists don’t do some of the silly things that bloggers do like using gerund forms to caption images and using questions as headlines.

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