The subject of bloggers versus journalists continues to come up again and again and I cannot see why. And I think the problem lays in the use of the "B" word.
I was at Sylvia Paull's CyberSalon Sunday evening and as she was introducing some of the journalists in the room, I popped my head up to say "I am also a journalist." Ms Paull asked if my content was just online I said that it was, but I'd be glad to print it out for her.
The CyberSalon panel featured "bloggers" and mainstream media journalists:
"NY Times technology reporter and author John Markoff, BlogHer cofounders and bloggers Jory des Jardins and Lisa Stone, blogger/podcaster/digital reporter Steve Gillmor, and freelance trade journalist Joshua Greenbaum. . .moderator Andrew Keen."
The setup was: bloggers versus mainstream media. However, all the panelists were media professionals and thus the distinction between bloggers and journalists became the "B" word and nothing else.
What interests me, is that others can see a distinction between the two and I continue to ask "where is the distinction?"I have a simple rule: If it looks like journalism--it is journalism and the author is a journalist.
A distinction that should be made is in the quality of the journalism, and in the audience reach of a journalist. For example, many journalists now have to blog for their employer. Do they cease to be a journalist when they write for their newspaper's blog? Do they apply different codes of ethics or standards to their "blog" versus their news story? The answer is no (just in case you were wondering :-).
And just because anybody can publish online--it doesn't mean anybody reads it. I wrote a post "If a blogger blogs in the blogosphere does anybody blog it?" to demonstrate that it is audience that matters.
Yes, there is now no barrier to publishing--but there is a barrier to audience. It takes a long time to build an audience--and bloggers know it. And they don't place fast and loose with their audience because they know how difficult it is to win a regular readership. That means established bloggers try to act responsibly and fairly in the same way as professional journalists.
Also, blogging is not disrupting mainstream media--it is enhancing the entire mediasphere. We have to move beyond this fake adversarial positioning, as at the CyberSalon.
What is disrupting mainstream media is online/search engine marketing. It is simply much cheaper to sell goods and services this way than through journalism.
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Related CyberSalon reports:
Steve Gillmor: Something new
Tim Bishop:Journalism vs. blogging = Yawn
Salon: Blogs: threat or menace?