The Other Great Debate : Journos V Bloggers

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.

Sexisms and Old Fuddy-Duddies

So I’m sitting there watching TV yesterday, and there’s a commercial for a baby alive, or baby born or something, and its a doll, that PEES and POOPS! Really, who needs a baby when you can get a doll that pretty much does everything your newborn would do????

Obviously there were two little girls in the commercial playing with the dolls. The VERY NEXT commercial was for a car-track-mountain-racer-thing, and had two little BOYS playing with it.

Fast forward 20 years, and each boy is wondering why the girls want to have babies so badly and the girls are wondering why all the boys care about is their cars. Problem solved! Just let boys play with dolls that pee and poo and girls play with race cars.

On a serious note, you have to wonder if the associations aren’t somewhat of a factor in the way that boys and girls turn out. Those dolls are probably great for any kid who is about to become an older sibling. Why do things have to be so gender-oriented ? My son absolutely loves a toy kitchen one of his little girl friends has. So I went looking for one for him for Christmas. I found one at Target, but they only had it in bright pink! I’ve since seen another one at Toys R Us so we are going tomorrow to have a look at it.

I’m not sure how I’d feel if my son was interested in playing with dolls. I don’t think I’d care. The fact is, he’s not that overly keen on toys anyway, so when he likes something and it occupies him for more than 30 seconds, I say its a winner!

In a similar theme, but a little bit scarier, I was reading an op-ed column today about whether or not our kids are growing up too quickly today. My initial response is a resounding “HELL YES THEY ARE!” But then I think, “This is what our parents, and their parents thought, too.” So how young is too young? The article I read mentioned a crop-top style of bra for TODDLERS. Yes, you read that right, a BRA FOR TODDLERS! I mean, I try to keep this blog G-rated, but seriously, WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I can understand why Elvis was so shocking to my grandmother’s generation. That kind of gyrating was a bit OTT for the public. But what of today’s music lyrics, music videos, movies, the internet, magazines…everywhere kids turn there is SEX or sexualised themes. Girls don’t want to grow up to be Prime Minister or President, they want to grow up to live in the Playboy Mansion. Makes me think of Pink’s “Stupid Girls” song. Yes, I’m generalising, and not every girl out there wants to be some dumb ho when they grow up. But I’d hazard a guess as to say that MOST girls are self-conscious, have body-image issues, and are only made to feel worse about themselves from bullying and teasing at school if they don’t want to kiss a boy, or heaven forbid to more than kiss him! I think its hard enough to go through the pressures of that as a teenager, without having to start worrying about it at SIX YEARS OLD.

Who is going to stop this? Who is going to stand up and say “Enough is enough”? Is it not our responsibility as parents to let our kids be kids for as long as possible? I’m not saying keep them sheltered and let them grow up in a naiive environment. But we need to be the ones to protect them, and to encourage them to be the absolute best they can be, and to raise them to be the young men and women we want to see the next generation become. But can’t we let them have a childhood, first?

“Only In America”

I’ve blogged about this before. And its come up again. With the shootings that have taken place recently in the US, everyone around here keeps saying, “Only in America!” It still seriously pisses me off, but I think I can spin it to a way that makes me less angry. I can see for argument’s sake, that if something keeps happening, and you don’t do anything to prevent it, that it will keep happening. In this case, people keep using guns to go on shooting sprees, you don’t take away guns, people keep going on shooting sprees. The solution seems easy.

And now for something I never thought I would do – defending those who believe in the “right to bear arms”. There are over 200 million people in the US. I don’t know how many own guns, but I guarandamntee that its a WHOOOOOOOOOOOLE lot more than the dozen or so idiots who make the news for killing sprees. Not to say that killing sprees are justifiable or “ok” b/c really its a small minority of gun owners who go…psycho. But should the 98% of gunowners who are responsible be punished because of these idiots? How many of these cases have had red flags and warnings all around before they happened? Maybe there is another way to prevent all these tragedies before ultimately removing the right to bear arms?

This is just another example of why I was never on debate team in high school. I could probably argue this issue from both sides of the table until we’re blue in the face.

But I digress…this is not meant to be a political “gun control” rant.

I get really upset at people who think Australia is so much better than the US, simply because we have gun control laws over here. Guess what? People still have guns! Just in the last two weeks, there have been several reports of shootings by the bikey gangs down south. Yes, Australia is soooo much better than the US because we have gun regulation, but guess what? Bikey gangs are killing each other every other day. Two weeks ago in Sydney airport a man was bashed/stomped to death in front of women/children/families!

A couple of months ago, two teenage gangs crossed paths on a Brisbane bridge and one kid was stabbed to near-death.

But yes, Australia is so much better because “Only in America” would multiple shootings happen several times a year and guns still don’t get banned.

For what its worth, I don’t like guns. I don’t like the saying “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Yes, they do, but they wouldn’t kill so many without a gun.I think they should just change the constitution to “the right to bare arms”…Yes you can wear shirts without sleeves, no you may not own a gun.