This is not and will never be the complete picture but it is a round up of thoughts at the moment on bloggers and journalists.
I like working with bloggers. I do so daily in many ways. I am a journalist, I work in mainstream media for a living. One of my concerns is about the relationship between the two sets. (I know that this is a simplistic divide but appreciate those who can bear with me for a moment on these broad strokes.)
I’ve watched and participated in the development of blogging and journalism over the last few years. There seems there may always be a few in each group who will divide the two in negative proportions. The “them and us” argument annoys me though. I am not an excellent blogger – but I could name twenty without really thinking and about the same when it comes to journalists. No, we are not the same. Even those who straddle the to positions have a strength in one over the other usually.
So, journalists are not bloggers are not journalists. In many ways I envy the freedom a blogger has, it’s something that I do not get to indulge in too often or fully. But there are bloggers who really deserve a profile as high as any popular newspaper columnist but they do not see the sort of syndication that brings this recognition. There are positive and negative points to both roles and reams of talent and unwarranted glory in both areas.
However, the segregation of “them and us” seems like a pretty negative divide. I’ve heard it used one way to describe mainstream media as predatory and aloof and flipped over to condemn bloggers as ill-informed and badly written. Throwing insult doesn’t really get us anywhere. All too often, the web being a place where people can let you know very directly whether or not you are hitting the mark, the cream can rise to the top – or is that just notoriety?
I guess I am somewhat optimistic when I look at the way that bloggers and journalists could work together. I’m not saying they have to – but there’s some great work that can be done when we do. Journalists speaking the language of web-natives works for a start. There are many who could benefit from the odd hyperlink and track back. The transparency of links in writing online shows your working out (to use a math exam term) and that you have some respect for the source you are working with. It also provides a way for readers to decide for themselves the areas of your writing they want to pursue further – in other words – added value.
Another area that makes me foam with rage is not asking permission for material. I cannot remember the amount of times that I have been appalled to see pictures, quotes, tracts of writing taken from blogs. This comment might seem a little late in the day, but it does happen and I cannot see why any writer worth their salt would approve of plagiarism over original work. The lines between creative commons and copyright for online material seem somewhat confusing to some and the fluctuations around sharing and pilfering are going to be with us for time to come. On the other side of that picture, making your blog out of the writing of published journalists without context or even a reason for using it other than boosting your site – isn’t that a bit lame? Syndication without permission, payment or reason? The bloggers I know who constantly amaze me are worth a lot more than cut and paste press clippings and their writing more valuable and thoughtful.
I think linking and respect when writing any piece of journalism or blogging is paramount. Otherwise how can you really obtain trust and a fair reputation for your output?
The idea that bloggers are just waiting to be journalists and journos think they are better than bloggers should really become something of the past. I know that the people I am referencing online in this piece might be reading it and thinking “Well duh!” But I guess I’ve popped it up here for the one or two who might cruise past and think again about the value of what they create online.
Or tear me to shreds because I have skipped over finer points to the discussion with my big fat house painting brush. Tell me why I am wrong…