Blogging vs professional reporting: journaling vs journalism?

A while back I put up a post on Facebook suggesting that maybe blogging and journalism are approaching something of a head-to-head online, considering the way that all our news and features media seem to be merging. The reactions I got were quite stark.

One US TV journalist said the key differences between the two are the fact that journalists have deadlines and editors to contend with – major issues bloggers don’t share, and that’s true, for sure. Someone else sent me a private message saying the two disciplines had nothing whatsoever to do with each other and I should be ashamed of myself for even suggesting there may be a conflict here.

When you strip the whole blogging story down to its underwear, you can see where the journos are coming from in their somewhat dismissive attitude towards bloggers. Blogging started out as an online platform for “journaling,” which is light years away from journalism.

Journaling: not the same as keeping a diary, but not reporting either

I won’t refer you to any onward links here although there are several on Google, but essentially the difference between keeping a diary and journaling is this: a diary is purely a record of your events – a journal is a record of your events along with your comments and views about those events.

This is where blogging started and as we all know it has evolved dramatically, which is where the dividing line between it and journalism begins to dissolve slightly. Many blogs today – deliberately or accidentally – cross over the invisible line into what perhaps we should call “alternative online journalism.” But should bloggers begin to think of themselves as journalists? Hmmm…

How do the journalists feel?

When you ask a journalist how they regard bloggers their answers have a tendency to be negative. However you can’t be surprised to find that traditional, professional journalism appears to be threatened not just by bloggers, but by the entire freedom of the internet which gallops over many disciplines like young horses having just broken out of a field.

Obviously when you consider news reporting, there’s no contest. But it’s in the area of features and particularly journalistic opinion pieces where the potential conflict may lie. Journalists have spent years studying and serving apprenticeships so they can report and comment in a professional way about the topics they cover. But in recent years, along comes the internet and opens up a huge new forum in which anybody can report on events and express opinions … unfettered by editorial policy, deadlines, or – let’s face it – ethical considerations.

A number of journalistic organisations like this one are uneasy about this and you can’t blame them.

Could journaling and journalism share a future?

This is something that worries me, and I’m sure worries many journalists. Although I have spent many years writing in the utterly commercial sector I was trained originally as a journalist (served my apprenticeship on a UK local newspaper.) And when I write posts like this, I try as far as I can to be fair and represent – or at least point out – all points of view.

But this is blogging. Where could it lead us? Should it attempt to swamp good old-fashioned traditional journalism? Or should we all work towards maintaining a respectful division between the two?

You might like to take a look at “A Blogger’s Code of Ethics” from CyberJournalist.net (a very useful and up-to-date resource dealing with just these issues.) It attempts to a) suggest how bloggers should approach their responsibility to their readers and b) differentiate themselves from professional journalists .

I’m very interested to know how you feel about this one, so please, share your views!

Whatever you write, do it right:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Comments

comments

Thoughts

  1. I don’t get why there is a lot of scepticism about bloggers, particularly by reporters. As far I know, reporting in the media these days borders on furthering biased opinions and is most of the time working with latent agendas, then why this negativity for the bloggers?

    It’s not like the bloggers are even trying to compete or take the place of the reporters. Most of them are just expressing an opinion. However, all the apprehension and the “dismissive” attitude of journalists at large have certainly made them really defensive.

    I actually had a journalism teacher in my class (also a reporter for a local newspaper) who said “Blogging is for random losers who don’t get printed.”

    Now, even though it would have satisfied her “insecurities” about being a print journalist in the Age of Internet, it was really demotivating for the entire class, most of whom I know would never attempt to write now and thus would also never aspire to be journalists.

    So yes be apprehensive or whatever, but realise that you have a responsibility too, particularly to the people who are still massively influenced by what’s said by journalists and reporters. At least, be fair.

    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Riffy, about print journalists getting twitchy about their own future in our increasingly online-based world. Their snotty attitudes towards bloggers only tends to reinforce my feeling that they’re insecure; many of their number have already lost their jobs and that trend looks set to continue.

      • @Suzan – Please don’t generalize, it’s insulting! Journalist are coping just fine with the online-based world. Newspapers all have an online version or news website, same goes with magazines. Technology advents gave rise to online/internet journalism and in my opinion has even provided journalist more opportunities to add more value to the readers experience and to engage with their audience and along with many other advantages. Blogging hasn’t and won’t replace journalism ( blogs, posts, comments on social sites, the “citizen journalist”)
        Just because the world has access to the internet and can comment, blog etc, doesn’t make the blogger (which could be anyone and everyone) a writer, journalist, artist or whatever. Journalists are bound by journalistic principles and ethics. It’s just like the music industry, everybody is dj now cause they can use a laptop software to mix a few tracks together. Everyone is a photographer now days too, instagram type apps. So please, I have no snotty attitude towards any blogger, and Im sure as hell NOT insecure about my future in media and journalism, of which I studied for five years and graduated for !

        • Hi Joanne … ironically, if you check my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see that I, too, am a qualified journalist having earned my wings the old-fashioned way on an apprenticeship up through local and regional newspapers! Anyway, I totally agree with you that bloggers and journalists are coming at the information industry from different directions.

          I just wish more bloggers – the cynical, greedy, semi-literate and self-righteous ones – would stop lambasting professional writers like you and me and accept that professional writing is still worth something. Heaven only knows I get enough flack from the “bad” bloggers for my views and have to defend professional writing on a nauseatingly regular basis. Good luck with your efforts to do the same!

          Stay in touch – and I will drop you an email about this…

          Sz

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