Journalists: Friends or Foes to Bloggers?

bloggingCitizen Journalists? 

When I was in middle school, I wanted to be a journalist. As a twelve year old girl, however, I did not really understand what that meant. My mother scheduled a meeting and faux tour with the local newspaper in town one weekend, and it was there that I began to see what went into the work place. It definitely was not what I had pictured a newspaper office to look like, and it was too stuffy and grey for me. Aside from this, I do remember being shown a set of cubicles with people working on blogs, mostly as a way for their readers to follow their stories and work via internet, as well as through print. This seems to me like the exact opposite of what people think, according to Jill Walker Rettberg in chapter four of Blogging titled “Citizen Journalists?”. She expands upon the opinions regarding the connections between journalism and blogging, or lack thereof, according to some people. After my day at the local newspaper office, I’d have to disagree with Rettberg’s reports.

Most bloggers do not think of themselves as journalists, but I’d like to say they are more similar than they might think. According to Rettberg’s research, there are three general ways blogging intersects with journalism. First, bloggers give first-hand reports on a specific topic or event exactly like a journalist would. Next, journalists and bloggers both set out to tell stories, and lastly, bloggers filter stories according to their interests and own personal style. It appears that the two careers are not so different after all. I would even like to make the claim that bloggers are even more efficient than some journalists. A survey of blog readers said that they view blogs as more credible. Bloggers tend to dig deeper where mainstream journalists don’t. For example, Dan Rather, a former anchor on the CBS Evening News, revealed documents that were critical of George W. Bush’s time in the military, claiming they were from 1970 and authentic. Bloggers immediately began digging more into the story and soon caught the error that the font was not available in ’70, stirring up chaos in mainstream media that led to the demotion of Rather.

Now you probably want to know what these differences most people state separate journalists from bloggers are, right? Well for one thing, journalism is all about being objective and reliable. By contrast, blogging is subjective and independent. The two couldn’t be more opposite, so it seems. You already know that I disagree with this statement, but it kind of rings true in some ways. In the field of journalism, you have to be open to all mindsets and opinions and focus on reporting information from an unbiased viewpoint. As a journalist, your goal is to give reliable information that people want to hear. On the other side of things, blogging is a little more lax. The independence of this structure gives bloggers the chance to have more freedom with their messages. This is also why bloggers tend not to even verify their facts sometimes. Bloggers approach their writing with their own opinions in mind, and that whoever reads their blogs have the choice to read it or not. In other words, they can choose if it reflects their own mindsets or not.

So, what do you think after hearing both sides? I know where I stand; I respect both career paths because I believe they each bring something new to the world of media. Bloggers challenge us to view media in different ways, similar to how journalists challenge us to see the world differently. I think all bloggers are journalists, but journalists are not all bloggers, for obvious reasons. It’s up to you to decide which route you’d like to take, but I don’t think it’s something we should be losing sleep over.

Journalism of Verification

If any of you thought journalism and blogging were far removed from each other before, then I really have something to show you after reading Kovach and Rosensteil’s chapter on “Journalism of Verification”. Similar to what I said previously about Rettberg’s chapter “Citizen Journalists?”, journalism and blogging are actually very similar. It all starts with the role of the audience. In blogging, readers can post comments and give feedback. Similarly, journalists interact with their own audience in the following ways, so read closely!

Let’s begin with the very early stages of journalism. This field was originally focused on being objective and reporting true facts that were favored by mostly everyone; in other words, it was more fair. In the late 19th century, people began wondering if realism would be a better approach with its more natural and real facts. They even wondered if subjectivity was a better response to the stories they were covering. However, realism was questioned because of the propaganda that was beginning to appear more and more at the time. In the early twentieth century, Walter Lippmann believed that it was time for journalists to become more scientific and report the truth. Thus the discipline of verification came into play and the ways journalists could do so.

There are a few major types of skills journalists must have in order to succeed in the field of the study of evidence and verification.

  1. Never add anything that was not there. Never add things that did not happen because it loses your credibility.
  2. Never deceive the audience. Never mislead; your audience should know everything that is going on.
  3. Be as transparent as possible about your methods and motives. It shows your respect for your audience and gains credibility.
  4. Rely on your own original reporting. Do your own work to gain trust and appear valid.
  5. Exercise humility. Be humble about your own skills as a journalist.

Each of these five core philosophies establish a closer relationship between journalists and citizens. Might I remind you that this is also one of the most favorable aspects of blogging: the relationship between the blogger and the audience. Overall, everyone in the journalistic process has a role to play in the journey toward truth. Each of the steps taken in the past that have contributed to a new phase of journalism make the world of journalism what it is today. The steps towards real and verified news took a while for us to get to, but now that we are here, it’s journalists’ jobs to continue to improve and guide it.

After reading each chapter about journalists and bloggers, I realize now that their roles vary immensely, yet they have the same goals in mind. Each field deals with building relationships with their audiences and readers, as well as reporting the truth. Although these fields did not begin with the same goals and priorities in mind, they grew to become very similar. I know I have learned some valuable information after today, and now I am definitely going to make sure everything I read is valid and verified. That’s all for now!

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