Friday, November 19, 2004

Blogs are not journalism

Blogs can be great tools for reporters, but are not journalism.

Blogs puts publishing in the hands of the people, very much like desktop publishing did back in the 80s. It is a rapid publishing development tool.

Those who blog can write exactly what they want (almost). They aren’t censored, which is a good thing. But they are neither edited, which is a bad thing.

Anyone can also comment on what’s written. Therefore blogs are great tools for public discussions and have fast became a very important actor for democracy.

Blogs are personal – they cannot be corporate. It’s the nature of blogs. Therefore bloggers aren’t accountable to an editor, or a big company, or some important politician. And that is just the point.

Vivid discussions form communities. And as a community, it demands involvement and commitment. Then do you write to be a part of a community, or do you write just to write? Depending on what, it influences your writing. What if the community causes you to alters your writing not to say anything or write in a special way to get attention?

If blogs are considered journalism, it must be something like ‘participatory journalism’ or ‘peer-to-peer journalism’. But I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘participatory journalism’. Journalism is much more than public access for your products that anyone can comment on.

Traditional media contains much more like brand credibility, criticism of the sources, entertainment, research and synthesizing complex stories. Weblogs would for example never have broken Watergate.

No, blogs are not journalism.

3 Comments:

Blogger dkreiss said...

Jan, you make an argument as to why blogs are not journalism, but you never define what journalism is.

I think the entire question is wrong. In my opinion, the correct one is whether certain blogs tend toward what we consider journalism.

For example, you say that blogs would never have broken Watergate. But it was blogs that discovered that the CBS Memos that Dan Rather relied on were forgeries.

So, what do you use as criteria for defining "journalism?" If it is original reporting, I can point you in one million directions. If it is "objectivity," I can show a million more. If it is "ethical standards," I can show you another million.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Jan Sandred said...

Journalism and blogging certainly overlap. Blogging is writing. Some writing is journalism. But not all who writes are journalists. Nor is it not possible to define journalism either as everything coming from the efforts by people trained in journalism or with a membership of professional journalist bodies.

My definition:
The central purpose for journalism is to provide citizens with the fair, accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society. Journalists should also educate the public about what the information means and put the information in the right context. The journalist is the interpreter of events mediated to the public in the form of news. The purpose is also to mediate public opinion, raise issues of public concern and participate in setting the public and policy agendas.

The main activity of journalism is the reporting of events by stating who, what, when, where, why and how, and explaining the significance and impact of the event or trend. In theory you distinguish between reporting (just the facts) and opinions, such as editorials, (the official opinions of the paper) and op-ed columns.

11:09 PM  
Blogger dkreiss said...

I think you just argued my point: saying blogging is not journalism is like saying paper is not journalism. Blogging is a publishing medium, not any qualitative description of the form or content of writing itself.

Your definition of journalism is fine; I did not mean my comment to be a discussion on journalism, but rather to argue that making blanket statements like "blogging is not journalism" is wrong.

I would only add this to your definition; the root of the word "journalism" is Anglo-French for jurnal "a day," from French journal, originally "daily," or a "daily record of transactions."

The distinction is clear in my eyes, there is a "professionalized" definition of journalism, which you rely on, and an older one that is much more expansive. I think the professional definition is precisely what is changing with new media tools like blogs.

4:47 PM  

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