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When Does a Blogger Become Part of “The Media”?

[Note: This is just a bloggers first take on it, and I freely admit to not having a deep understanding of the reasons why traditional journalistic accreditation is important. Everyone has a right to free speech (or should), so why does this matter?]

Tresblue raises an excellent question in his blog post, “Is Blogging Journalism?

I believe that blogging is performing a very important role in the new media today. Free of the hierarchy of traditional media and not bound by their rules and constraints, bloggers can be damned scary because they are not, nor can they be controlled.

Traditional Media

We first need to define what makes someone a journalist, or what makes the media “the media“. Then we need to decide how a blogger differs from a journalist.

  • Is it about readership? If someone gets enough attention, are they worthy of accreditation?
  • Is it about elitism? Is it the old traditional news companies protecting their space from this rabid crowd of peasants who would claim a voice?

Does it even matter?
I recently attended an event as “press/media”. They wanted me to cover their event because they wanted to reach my readership. Honestly, I couldn’t tell any big difference between myself and the traditional journalists in the room – other than their cameras were bigger.

What is the great benefit of being considered part of an accredited media association?

How about this; why is there any delineation at all between people who write about newsworthy things for money and those who do it for free?

I tend to think we’ll see a lot more of what happened to me. Organizers of shows and large companies don’t care about the accreditation of the writer, they just want to reach a large audience. If you’re a quality blogger, expect to be invited to attend events, just as traditional journalists would be.

I’d like to know answers to these questions just as much as everyone else. I’m going to continue reading Tresblue to see what people over there are saying. A little homework on my part is in seems in order as well. Thoughts?

10 Comments

  1. Very interesting. What’s more is that the online medium is much more than the sum of its current parts. It’s more than a bunch of silly commentary, YouTube videos and unaccredited citizen journalism – it’s the birth of a brand new independent art movement. Artists – in the traditional sense – create on a blank canvas; bloggers craft in a blank text box.

    Source: http://www.agencynext.com/2007/04/05/citizen-journalism-whats-out-there/

  2. Over time quality gets recognized, rewarded and requested more than the mundane. The more the market is free, the better it will decide,

  3. Interesting question posed Hash. It is a wonder that the ones who ask this question most are the journalists and media houses whose livelihood is getting affected by bloggers. We are encroaching on their turf. They treat you different and try belittling bloggers. The only other people who complain are those covered on exposes by bloggers.

    As for businesses, all press is good press. It is always good to be in front people regardless of what you are saying. So blogs are good for them. How many small businesses would get any pr if it wasn’t for blogging?

    So are they journalists? I don’t know how to answer that. I just know they are doing what journalists do. Whether free of paid and their services are of value. This can be attested by the number of media houses incorporating bloggers or new business models rely on blogging to make it.

  4. It’s simple – there are many forms of journalism from radio, TV, community radio, print and the latest addition is blogger journalism – I see myself less as a blogger journalist but more of an “activist journalist” using blogging as my medium.

  5. I believe there’s an idea that there are standards for journalistic “ethics” and some of this controversy comes from the fact that there are no real accepted standards of ethics for bloggers (which could create new kinds of misinformation for the general public). Certainly, the financial implications for established media industries are also at work here…

  6. As both a professional journalist / writer and a “free” blogger I have some experience of both sides of the fence. I have been astonished at the knee-jerk sucking up that some professional journos do in the presence of politicians and business bigwigs. I have been amazed at the naivete and short-sightedness of bloggers too.

    I think the major difference is really one of clout. If you write for a blog that has 1 million readers a day then you’ve got similar clout to a major news publication and can shout the odds. If you’re writing a tiny blog with a few dozen readers a week then you’re probably no different to a magazine with a microscopic circulation.

    That basically means that – if you have the clout – you can expect to be invited to big events as a special media guest, and take the sort of risks that might land you in trouble knowing that you either have sufficient celebrity status or your employer does, to get you out of trouble.

    If you don’t, you don’t.

    I frequently use my regular column at the Cape Argus as a way to get into events that I’m covering for other journals knowing that they probably won’t let me in otherwise.

    Although, as with a recent corporate do (an opening of a 20-computer IT centre at a school for 5 000 kids that was celebrated with all the excitement of the coming of the risen lord, gag, gag, gag) I sometimes get surprised by the desperation of PR firms to put bums in seats to make the CEOs feel special, and was invited on behalf of the magazine I write for that probably only has a few thousand readers.

  7. Gavin, I believe my thinking on this falls closest in line with your sentiments on “he who has the biggest audience wins”. It’s what we see happening in the world today. In web technology it’s better to be picked up by TechCrunch than the NY Times when you first launch (in the US).

  8. We grapple with this issue everyday at our blog, which really is growing into much more than that, especially as we are very strict about what quality we accept and about the comments we allow to remain on the boards.
    As your readers grow to expect a certain quality so do the demands to grow more and more into something like a mainstream newspaper. The beauty of blogging for us remains in the fact that we are not fettered to any particular worldview. Whereas some of our writers are pro-government others are anti-government. Our greatest challenge is to accommodate all these points of view.

    For us, our responsibility extends even even further as we came into being expressly because we were dissatisfied with the mainstream Kenyan media.

  9. Emmo, by the way, I really really like what you’re doing at KenyaImagine. It’s a fabulously well done site and has great content for Kenyans.

    I agree with you that the best part about blogging is that you’re allowed to be opinionated. In many ways it’s like being a radio talk show host. It’s an interesting analogy anyway.

  10. This is an interesting question. Africa News is working to give the user the opportunity to take part in the publishing process. See http://www.africa-news.net!

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