It seems calling a journalist a blogger is like calling an Aussie a Kiwi. You’re far safer to just not do it. Once in a while, someone gets a bee in their bonnet about a label. Whether it’s the SAHM v WM debate, or the “bloggers-aren’t-journalists-aren’t-bloggers” debate, I guess people just need something to talk about. And actually, I do need something to talk about, because
blogger’s, journo’s writer’s block is killing me!
I do feel like I’m semi-qualified to comment on this debate, seeing as though I have a degree in journalism, and I have a blog. I actually had a “journal” on LiveJournal and a diary on DiaryLand back before wordpress or blogspot even existed. Granted, I have never written for any publication outside of my university newspaper and the last time I did that was circa 2000. I know media has changed drastically since then. Life has changed drastically since then. Industries have a way of evolving, growing, expanding in directions people don’t expect or anticipate. The media industry is certainly not exempt from that, if anything it may be more susceptible.
Allison Lee, over at The Punch (journalism in its absolute loosest form) has written a piece titled Blogging and Journalism. Not The Same Thing. I’ve read the article. It has stats and figures from a study in it. It’s journalisty. She doesn’t slander bloggers or blogging, she doesn’t, in my opinion, make it sound like she thinks either one is superior. She may make a couple of generalizations about bloggers based on this study (of which there is no reference to how many bloggers were surveyed), but I felt the general point she was trying to make is that blogging and journalism are different. Neither one better, just simply different. And neither one is going away any time soon.
In rebuttal to that piece is Anna Spargo-Ryan, a blogger who says journos and bloggers aren’t as different as we think. Anna has taken Allison’s piece a bit more to heart than I did and argues that bloggers are just as capable of being journalists as journalists are. And, perhaps to the surprise of journos, bloggers do actually care about and are as qualified to write about, current affairs.
I know, opinions are like assholes, we all have one. And lets face it, ours are the only ones that don’t stink. Now there’s a sentence I’m not sure a journo would get away with, but as a blogger, I can use words like asshole. That in itself makes a massive difference between journalism and blogging. I digress.
I think the definition of” journalist” and the definition of “blogger” is very different. More than that, I think it should be different. I could give you Oxford’s definition of each (has blogger made its way into the OED yet?), but I’ll go one step better and give you mine! A journalist typically gathers facts, in an unbiased fashion, to report newsworthy events to a reader/listener base. A blogger typically interprets facts, in an
always often-biased fashion, to report events that may or may not be newsworthy to his or her reader base. And they can use fowl language. They can also write about whatever the hell they want to. Journos are assigned stories. In my incredibly limited experience with blogging/bloggers, my guess would be that more of them identify with writers than journalists (yes, there’s a big difference there, too!).
Anna didn’t like Allison alluding to the fact that bloggers only blog about what is going on at the kitchen sink. What I love about bloggers is that they can take something that happens at the kitchen sink and make it a laugh-out-loud story. Something no journalist has ever been able to do with a story out of Canberra. With the exception of that guy on channel 7 who does the weekly political re-cap. He’s quite funny.
I don’t think anyone is saying bloggers can’t report about current affairs and no one is saying journos can’t blog. The very simple bottom line is that blogging is not journalism, and journalism is not blogging. It doesn’t mean they can’t both exist in the same media-driven world. I read news sites because I like to know a little bit about what is going on in the world. I read blogs because I like to identify with other mothers and women who have funny anecdotes, passionate opinions or tragic stories (or a bit of everything).
The truth, for me, is that as a blogger with a journalism degree, I most often feel like neither. I am just a person, who sometimes writes, in a minute (my-newt) part of the interwebs, recording letters to my son, opinions about things I feel passionate about, or just a general bunch of drivel because I have nothing important to say. There are some fantastic bloggers. There are some fantastic journos. There are also some very average ones. It shouldn’t matter what your label is, what you write about, who you write to or who you write for. “Blogger” is not a dirty word. “Journalist” is not an elitist word. Let’s try not to take anything too seriously or too personally, and maybe we’ll all get along just fine.