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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blogging as Journalism

I like the point JL makes in the previous post about opinion in blogging. I think this is one of the key issues with respect to the differences between blogging and journalism. That is not to say that blogging can't be journalism, just that most of it isn't. And, I am wary to trust blogs on the whole as a form of journalism as the majority are not journalism.

In the article Lasica says, "Weblogging will drive a powerful new form of amateur journalism as millions of Net users — young people especially — take on the role of columnist, reporter, analyst and publisher while fashioning their own personal broadcasting networks." I think that depends on how loose your definition of "amateur journalism" is.

Perhaps we can turn to The Elements of Journalism, a leading text on the guiding principles of the field, written by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel. In an article on the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the book is outlined. Kovach and Rosenstiel offer the following pillars on which journalism stands: truth, journalists' loyalty to citizens, verification/accuracy, a monitor of power, comprehensive and proportional, a responsibility to conscience. We can put blogging against these to find how like and unlike blogging and journalism are. For brevity, I'll comment on only a few points.

The article restates Kovach and Rosentstiel's argument that journalism should "separate itself [journalism] from entertainment, propaganda, fiction and art." In contrast, I think blogging often blurs the boundaries of these different arenas, splashing in entertaining opinion, art, or embellishments that make "blog news" more exciting than traditional news.

Additionally, blogs are likely, in sum, very comprehensive and proportional. Individually, however, most blogs do not strive to equally represent both (or all) sides of an issue, rather blogs often offer substantial evidence and argument on one side.

On the positive side, blogging does, arguably more so than journalism itself, offer what Kovach and Rosenstiel call "a voice to the voiceless" in that blogging has much less costly and time consuming barriers to entry than would, say, owning your own television channel or broadcast station.

So is it journalism? I think not. Unfortunately, though, I think we are afraid to admit it isn't for fear that it belittles what we as bloggers do, it belittles our cause. I think blogging and journalism can go hand in hand; they can help and build off of one another. But, that does not mean that blogging is journalism and it does not mean that it must be considered so to be valued.

Update: cross-posted at Look to the Sky

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