The Ambivalent World of Blogging (is it journalism?)

Blogging has become pretty much a worldwide phenomenon. According to John Naughton, new blogs are created at a pace of roughly two every second. Christian Wagner adds that the world of blogging (also know as the blogosphere) has surged only in the past couple of years. He estimates that roughly 6 million blogs were published as of 2004. The role that blogging has taken in the media industry today changes the way people see certain topics and issues. Many news outlets now have blogs written by their journalists to compliment the their news coverage and to give their readers a different angle. Blogging is often used as a means to spark discussion. Because it is interactive, it allows readers to state their opinions, debate issues, get up to speed and even inform others. Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellnersupport this idea by saying that citizens use this “new media to become informed, to inform others, and to construct new social and political relations.”Although some journalists have entertained the idea of starting a blog, others don’t see it as being “real” journalism. Journalist Jason Falls explains that in his belief, the main difference between journalism and blogging is fairness. He says that any piece of journalism written by a trained and professional journalist “at least attempts to give opposing sides or viewpoints an opportunity to respond before the article or program is published.” He then argues that bloggers publish anything, be it one-sided or not, and assume that if readers disagree they can say so in the comment section of the blog post. However, this point is mute if the blogger evidently argues or merely discusses both sides of the story; in this case, fairness remains. The one point that stays constant, even in Falls’ article is that “traditional media is produced for consumption,” while “today’s media is produced for engagement.” The interactive process involved in blogging is what allows for both readers and bloggers to remain involved in any discussion.

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen says that blogging is not journalism. Instead it is the result of readers of journalism turning into writers and “the audience into a talking public.” His argument extends into the idea that while blogging may not be journalism, journalists can and do blog. Just as professor Gina Masullo Chen points out, blogging is a tool that is best suited for journalist because it allows for them to connect with and better understand their readers.

The debate at hand remains: is blogging journalism? While opinions on the topic differ significantly, journalist Jacob Friedman discusses all sides of the argument. The first opinion he discusses is that blogging is not journalism. The reason being that blogs are mostly a forum for discussing opinions, and opinions don’t make up concrete journalism. The main problem in blogging, which supports the latter belief is that “speculation can be erroneously reported as fact.”

The second opinion he develops on is that “blogging is a training ground for journalists.” Blogging can thus serve as a stepping stone into the world of real journalism. Many blog aficionados have successfully moved up the ladder of success into larger news outlets. Friedman supports this point with the example of FiveThirtyEight.com having been bought out by the New York Times.

A third opinion that he elaborates on is that journalism is not determined by the source, but rather by the quality of the content. He says that “rather than judging the medium with wide sweeping strokes, this group judges on the basis of content.” Those who hold this opinion believe that determining whether or not something should be considered journalism “boils down to the quality of the information, rather than its source.”

To finish off this post, here are links to three significant blogs that students in journalism should follow:

MediaWire:
http://www.poynter.org/category/latest-news/mediawire/
This is a blog by Poynter that deals with every single aspect of the field of journalism. It is not restricted to one single form of journalism, but rather takes into account all of the mediums.

Nieman Journalism Lab:
http://www.niemanlab.org/
This blog, as stated on its about page, “is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.” It is a blog catered to discovering new and innovative ways to use journalism.

10,000 Words:
http://www.mediabistro.com/10000words/
This blog is notable for journalism students because its content discusses the use and importance of technology in the ever changing world of journalism.

References:
Gabriella Musacchio
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