If bloggers are newsmakers, are they journalists?

Today's Blogland trivia question comes to us from Aaron Shenin with The State:

"What is a journalist?"

That's a good question, which he presented to his readers in a recent story in The State:

The growth of Internet sites focusing on government and politics has put Web loggers and self-described “citizen journalists” into positions typically reserved for traditional media practitioners, including reporters and editors working for newspapers, wire services, and television and radio stations.

In state capitols across the country, officials are trying to figure out how to treat the proliferating members of the new media.

In his story, to support the point of view that bloggers, who often present late-breaking SC political news faster than traditional media outlets, aren't really journalists, he quoted Bill Rogers with the S.C. Press Association, who rejected the notion that bloggers could be journalists:

The honoring of credentials is a courtesy offered to traditional media outlets so that the general public, through their reports, can have better access to government meetings, sporting events, police investigation scenes and the like. Anyone can be a blogger, which is fine, but that doesn’t make them a journalist.

Really Mr. Rogers? I didn't know the journalism field was so selective. Granted many of these positions require a formal education, but so does being a teacher in Clinton or Ware Shoals. But it doesn't always guarantee they're any more ethical or professional than any other Joe Blow.

Of course, take note the guy said "traditional media outlets", so if you're not with a news outlet that is printed or broadcast over the airwaves, you can't join his old-tech "Boy's Only Club".

By contrast, the folks at PR News, people who don't make the news, but make a good living dealing with it, have a somewhat different view of bloggers, advising their readers to respect and work with bloggers, portraying them as people just as interested in getting and presenting information as any traditional news media outlet:

Building relationships is important, as well as monitoring your space, even if your client decides not to blog. You must monitor the bloggers who blog about your client, so you can respond in a timely manner to the chatter that's out there. A rumor or critical situation can turn to wildfire very rapidly.

Bloggers are well informed, savvy and opportunistic. (They are) passionate about their topics but also very willing to listen. They have opinions, but they are open to listening to arguments. They won't always agree, but you can start a conversation.

Bloggers want the exclusive as much as The New York Times does. It's good to offer things like that to bloggers, especially ones with a big audience base. Because they are so viral, you need to build good relations with bloggers.

It might benefit the folks at The State to take a few minutes to look at what is going on out there and realize us bloggers aren't a bunch of misfits after all (that label only applies to yours truly).

22 Response to "If bloggers are newsmakers, are they journalists?"

  1. Anonymous 14/3/07 08:53
    excellent shot! hit them right in the ass - where they deserved to be kicked.
  2. west_rhino 14/3/07 11:37
    Earl, absent a professional(sic) organization of the lock step fifth column inch of fifth columnists, obliviously no blogger could ever be seriously considered as a urinalist(sic). Blogs are a threat to the control wielded by a "free press" and its "bully pulpit". Consider the predecessor to blogging in the former Soviet Union, the "samisdat press", an underground route for the dissemination of the truth behind the facade presented by teh paradoxically named "Pravda".

    "The Times they are a changin," and pop-up blockers don't pay publishers and editors.

    Maybe Bandy got out at teh right time
  3. west_rhino 14/3/07 12:43
    To revise and extend those thoughts Earl, it seems that absent any real investigative journalists, unafraid of their story being tanked, the blogosphere fills a gap. In SC the last reporter that dared find another outlet to expose an issue, (prostitution in Darlington County, if memory serves correct) was "defrocked" as rapidly as was Bill Hemmans by the AME church for his questioning the Christian values of a Democrat platform being peddled from the AME's pulpit.

    One tangent from your title of this entry, D. K. Wooley of the "J-school" in the Carolina Coliseum admonished several budding photojournalists that they were "there to report the news, not become the news". Granted he was speaking of shooting photos of crime and accident scenes, there is an apparent facet of objectivism inherent in being the news or the newsmaker.

    Take Woodward and Bernstein (please!). With apologies to Henny Youngman, that pair continues to be feted and hailed for brigning payback to the chair of the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee. Pawns in the process managed to miss the call girl ring being run from the posh offices of a national party whose coffers were so depeleted that they resorted to holding a telethon for the DNC... any clues in there that ought to draw an expose for a reporter from a group as impartial as Fox News is today?

    Earl, blogs don't fit the "daily fishwrapper" description, the festering, mouldering print media still serves that purpose.
  4. Anonymous 14/3/07 14:41
    The real question Earl is, are Journalists tough enough to be Bloggers? After Drudge gave the national media a swift kick in the ass I believe the news world changed. Once I saw the change, about 10 years ago I decided that newspapers were a terrible investment and divested myself of any holdings in that and other forms of media.

    With regard to my opening statement, look at Warthen's zoo blog. It is a riot watching him try to fend off actual feedback. I do not think Mr. Warthen is adapting well at all.

    But why give any credence to those that can merely write well assuming you do not live in an area outside The State's circulation.

    Adapt and overcome or die by the pen, or was that the stroke of the keyboard.

    In conclusion, take a short position on media stock as true competition is upon the industry. Go Bloggers, and don't let the lack of work ethic get in the way like it did the other media forms. Keep the news raw and real. And for journalists, I would learn that there are commas in financial statements. I guess English & Journalist majors will have to take calculus after all. Enjoy!
    Of course the downside is that law schools will increase in size, excluding professional slights against people like Brian though.
  5. Ryan Castle 14/3/07 14:55
    Bloggers and journalists should be working hand-in-hand. No journalist I know got into the profession for the money (trust me, there's not enough in it). They started in the buisness to expose the evil and corrupt governement offiicals such as many bloggers do. Bloggers also provide a journalist easy access to feedback about news to give different takes sources may not have been providing. Newspapers and bloggers are different mediums, which over time you will see more and more integration if newspapers want to survive.
    It doesn't matter who exposes the news, as long it get out there. Now if a journalist is threatened by blogger "breaking news" then maybe that person should become a better journalist.
  6. Anonymous 14/3/07 17:22
    "Granted many of these positions require a formal education, but so does being a teacher in Clinton or Ware Shoals. But it doesn't always guarantee they're any more ethical or professional than any other Joe Blow."

    That's a pretty funny punch line, but I'm sure some of those hacks who happened to get journalism degrees wouldn't think so.
  7. Moye 14/3/07 20:25
    west_rhino just right on the former Soviet Union underground. Bandy should had left a long time ago. In fact the dude is still around.

    Now for the rest of the story. I read several papers a day online across SC one in Greenville, Sumter and Columbia and others sometimes also whatever city I am in. Whatever paper my hotel leaves at my door or has in the lobby. When at home I usually buy the Charleston paper and either the State or Florence paper. I also subscribe to two weekly papers the Manning and Kingstree paper. I visit at least 4 SC blogs a day. I am weaning myself off the contempory paper but it has been hard. The main reason is time. I find the blogs more to my liking as I can control the information I want to see if you can understand that.
    That also may be the reason it is hard to give up the papers. I have to dislike something. Also local sports has a lot to do with the papers. You may not consider sports news some do.
  8. Anonymous 14/3/07 20:36
    moye, you're not very bright in wasting your money on The State. toilet paper is good for the same thing, but it costs a whole lot less.
  9. wet_rhino 14/3/07 21:53
    anon, gotta remember, moye lives on the Santee Cooper lakes, the investment in fishwrappers and compost material in an agriculturally based county makes some sense.

    I can also consider that, circa thirty years ago, The State and the Charleston News and Courier were laid side by side as comparisons of the extremes of journalism could be within 100 miles of each other. Now, both owned by a conglomerate, only the local ads tend to reccommend them over USA Today.

    Moye, Bandy's exit, IHMO was as he's peaked on earnings, anticipating that the bean counters may find it better for the bottom line to take a few bloggers as stringers, paid for piece work.

    One is left to resolve the implicit rhetorical paradox of a "journalist" that operates a blog...
  10. Anonymous 14/3/07 22:40
    Maybe we bloggers ought to come up with something called the SC Bloggers Association, and issue online stories through it and the like.
  11. Anonymous 15/3/07 09:19
    hey butt boy - you're no journalist, that's for sure.
  12. Daniel 15/3/07 10:18
    When are bloggers journalists? When they commit acts of journalism. That simple. The medium doesn't matter. The form doesn't matter. The act matters.

    Journalism can be done well or done poorly, often by the same journalist. Same with bloggers.

    Most of us do not choose to commit real journalism on our blogs. We rehash and analyze. We use the power of the hyperlink to create our own form of peer-to-peer broadcasting. There's nothing wrong with any of that. In fact, those are positive acts. But they're not the primary functions and roles of original journalism.

    Earl, on the other hand, sometimes does his own original reporting: He calls sources. He gets new information. He cites and links. And yes -- he and the state's political bloggers are sometimes out in front of stories that the traditional press treat as somehow radioactive.

    Y'all should really go check out zero.newassignment.net if you want to see where "citizen journalism" might be heading. That's one direction, anyway: there could be many.

    But let's also be clear: the act of blogging is no more inherently noble than the act of covering news for traditional media. I straddle both worlds and I'm basically sick of people on both sides who think they're somehow God's favorites and that the other side is (fill-in the blank).

    And to the commenter who said that the News and Courier is owned by a conglomerate: It's been The Post and Courier for more than a decade, and it's still owned by the same family. Like it or don't like it -- your call. I'm just correcting the factual record.
  13. Earl Capps 15/3/07 12:07
    Excellent comments, Daniel. As you point out, I think there is a sort of convergence taking place there and that the two worlds are not mutually exclusive to each other.

    A number of smarter reporters in this state know the lines are blurring, and they're smart enough to respect us for what we are, and understand what we're not. Those guys I really respect and appreciate.

    Ironically, some of those who diss non-traditional electronic news media sites never hesitate to scoop us without giving us due credit. Talk about arrogance and slothfulness.

    Traditional and non-traditional media have a lot to offer each other. I hope more traditional media types will figure this out, set their egos aside, give us the respect we've earned, and tune in to the conversations we're having.
  14. Anonymous 15/3/07 15:34
    earl, aaron says he wants to spank you with a copy of his paper. he says you've been a bad, bad boy.

    which is about the only thing it is good for these days.
  15. Moye 15/3/07 17:59
    To anon 2036 and Daniel I agree the State sucks but if you read what I wrote you would had noticed I said I have to dislike something so the State is it. Like WR the Charleston paper was called the News and Courier for so long most people still call it that today except the very young ones. Reminds me of my watering hole The Palms at Wyboo. People in the county call it Blackwells because for years it was from the start then it changed names a couple of times and we all still say Blackwells. Habits are hard to break. Being a citizen of Santee Cooper the paper does come in good for wrapping fish and when out of Charmin for wiping my butt. This is when the State comes in good. Have a good day.
  16. Anonymous 15/3/07 20:48
    The bottom line is always the bottom line when it comes to stock held companies and virtually all companies. The real funny part of this discussion is of course the traditiponal "journalists" and other media forms are threatened by the internet bloggers. Why? Look at the loss of power in politics, credibility and last but most important-the profit that they have lost as a result of the competition brought about by the bloggers, et al. However, the bloggers get assaulted be it by credibility issues,etc. remember that it is all about two things, power, and money which they have lost due to INCREASED COMPETITION, and declining market share of advertising dollars. Cry this capitalist a river of tears.

    I remember when General Colin Powell declined running for President stating, he did not get in fights with people that bout ink by the barrels. Well, some 10 years plus later I think that statement can be amended to incorporate, people that write in HTML,etc.

    Hooray for the bloggers as they are true Americans just expressing themselves and creating jobs, and deflating large corporations of expressing their opinions on a variety of levels that count with the votes they independantly cast and influence or public policy which is great for democracy. Remember, a corporate entity cannot vote although they try to influence many and have in the past.

    In a democracy the bloggers are another chack and balance. And in passing, liberal media, bite me! In fact, I can prove that Knight-Ridder did either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented numbers to the public. Would you like a taste? Further, I will forward to Earl this evening a violation of federal law that the media totally missed over the past few weeks in relation to a political event. If published here, you will understand the power of having different views and the power of diversity. No longer will the inept,liberal "Ivory Tower" media dominate this country. Let freedom ring and different talents(diversity).

    If journalists had a brain to understand these laws then they would have caught it or if the national traditional media outlets.
    Compliments of the USC School of Business, damn sure not the English or Journalism schools either.

    In fact, I have been in politics i n SC since 1968 and sometimes as an operative. As an operative one thing always comes first, you have to write the articles yourself and feed it to the lazy journalists.

    Journalist, another word for being too lazy and stupid to function in the real world.
  17. west_rhino 16/3/07 15:44
    last anon before this reply, about 1980 one radio WIS radio reporter/on-air host, opined that were a high school grad to come to him and ask what he ought to study to become a journalist, he'd highly recommend a BA in history or English literature and to by all means read Milton.

    From what I've seen, the crop that emerges from the bowels of the McGuire Arena may have rudiments of style and "journalistic ethics". I have to agree with your kudos to the business school, and dunning of the "J-school".

    Failing to have the broader context of too many stories, we're being offered less information in a way that approaches being given a half truth in the sound bites and reduction to an abstact of the story that so often is heaved up for the populace to digest.

    Perhaps Neal Boortz is right, regarding the idea that stupid people oughtn't be allowed to vote. Having seen people in the booth stick their heads out and ask poll managers who some of these folk on the ballot were or where the names of the write in candidates were (not how to write in, but who to write in when the ballot face had none listed and (write-in) above the text VOTE FOR NO MORE THAN THREE)
  18. Anonymous 16/3/07 15:55




  19. Anonymous 17/3/07 02:06
    Hey Capps,
    Were you not married to a journalist?
  20. That Hot Chick 18/3/07 11:21
    Her loss, our gain. A man who is such a great cook should not be tied down by the shackles of matrimony.
  21. Earl Capps 18/3/07 16:23
    My ex-wife was employed by several newspapers a number of years ago, and even won a number of awards from the S.C. Press Association for her work.

    As to what relevance this has with this article, I'm not really sure. It sounds to me like someone was trying to trap me into a discussion of personal issues - but too bad for them.

    Given that she was pretty top-notch in her field, I'd imagine that if blogs and other forms of non-traditional electronic media were around in that time, she'd have enough sense to see the obvious and the drive to take full advantage of what we have to offer.

    Which is more than I can say for some (but not all) journalists out there today.
  22. William W. Hemmans III 22/3/08 04:05
    Comments About My Father Bill Hemmans:

    Hello, I was surfing the internet and came across this page. Bill Hemmans is my father. I am his 1st born son and name sake. Why such interest in my father respectfully. For more about me and my validity, I have a website where my 1st book is being promoted at www.myabbais1.com.
    Take care
    William W. Hemmans III

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