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Are Journalists Bloggers, Or Are Bloggers Journalists?

Jon Arnold has an excellent piece on how bloggers differ from journalists. For Jon, it boils down to this: journalists have a code of ethics, bloggers don’t.

There are some bloggers who act like good journalists. Conversely, there are some journalists who act like bad bloggers.

When I hear journalists denouncing bloggers as not being journalists, it sounds a bit like sour grapes. Here are these riff-raff that weren’t trained as journalists and don’t necessary adhere to journalism tenets. Yet, they’re encroaching on the journalist’s turf by reporting on the stories.

Let’s be clear about one thing: nobody holds a monopoly on sharing the truth with as wide of an audience as possible. Whether the information comes from a blogger or a member of the press, one always must consider the source of the material.

Journalists, code of ethics aside, are human. They make mistakes. They are subject to undue influence by outside forces, just like bloggers. They may also, either inadvertently, willfully, or through coercion, go against the ethics of journalism.

One other point to consider: Unlike the megaconglomerates that employ the vast majority of journalists–and can and do influence how stories are reported–at least a good blogger discloses their potential conflicts of interest. It’s the reason I frequently disclose where I work in my blog posts–it’s the right thing to do.

Another thing that journalisms seem to get caught up on is the fact that bloggers aren’t accountable to anyone. True, a bad blogger can just as easily assume another pseudonym and set up a new blog within 5 minutes. However, a good blogger, like a good journalist, has a reputation with their readers. They are always accountable to their readers, even if there isn’t a megaconglomerate  corporation backing them.

Bottom line: there are bloggers that act much like journalists. While they weren’t classically trained, they follow the same principles, or at least try to. As to whether or not bloggers should be given the same protections as the press, I think if blogger acts like a journalist, they should be given the same protections. If a blogger or a journalist acts irresponsibly, that’s a different story.
Creative Commons License photo credit: thivierr

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