A journalism student has sent an e-mail to several people asking whether “blogging is a valid form of journalism”. Robin Hamman of the BBC blogs project offered a great response:
Journalism and blogging need not be separate activities undertaken by separate people and I certainly don’t believe that journalism is something that can and should only be done by trained professionals.
I know journalists who blog and non-journalists who write and publish articles in newspapers and magazines. Trying to distinguish between who is a blogger and who is a journalism really isn’t very helpful or meaningful. That said, the vast majority of bloggers wouldn’t call themselves journalists, they’d say they are people who post some stuff online for friends and family to read. And yes, there are a lot of blogs about cute kittens, babies, and other topics that are of intense interest to an audience of 3 or 4 people.
As does Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media:
An equivalent question would be: Is publishing on paper a valid form of journalism?
Blogging is simply a publishing method — a website.
Some blogs are clearly journalism. Most are not. The bloggers who are doing journalism are for the most part following standard journalistic principles such as thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and independence as well as transparency.
I’ll be saving these somewhere to throw at the next person who gets the old “blogging vs journalism” chestnut going again.
Later: On del.icio.us,* Guardian* blogs editor Kevin Anderson writes:
My reply to this is that most people confuse a technology with content and also think mistakenly that most bloggers write about current events.
Even Later: Andy Dickinson expands brilliantly on Gillmor’s and Anderson’s important insistance that the medium does not make the message:
If you are a journalist first, there are exciting opportunities in medium free content creation. If you are a print person or a TV person only, there is nothing but competition.
If we can move in to that mindset then we can have an honest debate about what works in the new digital environment. We can base that on an understanding that all mediums impact on the content we produce not just pick at one.
The online medium doesn’t reduce all content to hot of the presses, mistake filled news briefs just as print doesn’t expand every article in to a well rounded commentary, dripping in meaning and context. Journalists do that.
Exactly. Journalism in blog form is “invalid” only to those who fail to distinguish between journalism and (print) publishing.