Are bloggers journalists?

24 Comments

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.

24 Comments

Kurt

I agree with Steve Laser and Hoot G. If written and produced correctly, blogs could be a form of reliable media. But then, is there such thing as reliable media?

Most of the TV I watch is rubbish. They are constantly using illegitimate sources, and they seem to run only by their OWN rules. Why should bloggers have to abide by anything more than what the rest of the media have to?

valimixael

Being a journalist one must write according to the style and type of the newspaper! It is true that if a newspaper wants to attract advertisments from example the municipalities of an area will avoid writing against the Mayors or the people who are responsible for paying the money…Therefore those who pay more to the newspaper will be favoured by the gournalists who work with the specific papers…and so on!This is only one example. If somebody owns a blog then its easier to express ones opinion. Through a blog one feels free to do more things to act as he feels to use imagination and to create something unique without thinking of the cost of publishing and also is not obliged to obey to those who pay money to have journalists be their pupies!!!!There is a lot to be said….but this time I am worried about my new blog which I can not see in the Internet!!!

Rex Taylor Smith

Its as if you are trying to fit square ideas into the square holes and the circle ideas into the circle holes. Why is it necessary to make some binary arbitration as regards to what you do. Ones and zeros, this or that, blogger or journalist. I know what I do – and it won’t change if someone gives it a new name tomorrow. Its as though Mr. Jones is arguing with his son – Mr. Jones – over which one is more or less Jones than the other. Is it a useful query? Bloggers, journalist, writers, et al. Are we not each of us an individual voice, a different angle, a distinct perception – an interpretive style derived from the layers and custom filters of our own experience? I think of it like this – what the files and folders on my PC’s desktop are to the files and folders on my father’s desktop 20 years ago, is what bloggers are to journalist. The tools, infrastructure and specific circumstances are different, the motives, processes and responsibility are in essence unchanged.

Excalibur

Bloggers are just that ‘bloggers’ they dont have the salt to be journos who deal in facts whereas bloggers post mainly ‘opinion’ and are merely lame commentators who indulge in lazy, sloppy research. Every tom, dick and sally has an ‘opinion’ and thinks they online journalists er bloggers without doing the legwork. Its cool to blog look at me look at me i wana be a journo when i grow up! Lazy blog hacks!

bjrnt

Hey, cool man!!
-I`m writing as an assignment for school. And after I micro-browsed your page; would you call it a blogg? This looks more, as you are stating-like a professional rewiev-site for electronic devices.

I like it alot.

bjr10

Bloggers are never journalists in my opinion. There is nobody editing the posts written. A journalist always has his real name on the table and should sell the product as one. A blogger is just a creative writer with the unknown urge to get the text out in the public.
http://bjr10.wordpress.com/

James Kendrick

An old thread comes to life. That is usually true but on the GigaOM network, which this blog is a part of, all posts are edited by a full team of professional editors.

vinod

Actually there is no any problem that a person must journalist . Even some persons are blogging just as hobby and other as full time blogging profession .But both way we get somthing new and wonderfull .

Mike Whalen

Seriously, what’s an A-List Blogger? Robert Scoble? Whomever shows up in Valleywag? I can’t figure it out.

I can’t answer the larger question here. I would like to point out that James and Kevin probably show more journalistic tendencies than others. After all, both of you write for publications that portend to hold such standards high. That would have an effect on your writing style and your concerns about accuracy. I don’t know when one would cross from “blogger” to “journalist,” however.

Taxman

All I know is my Dallas Morning News and Wall Street Journal are piling up in the recycling box, but I ALWAYS catch the latest post on JKOTR and the comments too. So, you are different and that’s a good thing!

Taxman

Rodfather

I tend see to the opposite with this site. I value more their opinion than just boring information. If all I wanted was recycled links of product news, I’d go to Mobility Site.
James and Kevin aren’t afraid to express their opinion whether it’s popular or not. They’ve been doing this long enough where integrity is not in question. Plus, they seem like cool dudes.

MOC

Dude, you seem to be a journalist. A journalist respond to the responsability, that the words put out.

Surely, a blogger can do that too, but a blogger doesn’t need to.

You always seem to put information above opinion, and that’s important. I don’t really care, what some guy thinks. But I like to be informed.

If it’s youre highest goal to inform the public in a objective way, then you’re a journalist in the works. If you write stuff on the internet to put your opinions forward, you’re a blogger.

That’s what I think anyway, feel free to disagree :)

Andy

There are two groups who respond to JK on the Run as an authoritative blog: us the readers and many of the hardware and software vendors that give you heads up, new products and programs before they are released. To me these are the two most important audiences. It doesn’t matter what MSM thinks we the readers trust you and the vendors (HTC, EverNote, HP etc) have enough sense to send you evaluation products and early betas. You are functioning as effectively as MSM without all the excess. Keep up the great work!

Nate

…or run around turning off televisions during presentations.

No

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.

Boca

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.

Sal

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.

Rodfather

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?

nomo

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

Rodfather

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.

Jose R. Ortiz

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.

Hoot G

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…

Steve Laser

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.

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