Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blogging vs Journalism

Journalism, meet blogging:
Writing a personal blog post on 5/20/12 that CNN reported on.
What's the difference between blogging and journalism?

There's a perception that journalists tend to look down on bloggers since the bar to blog is low. Anyone can become a blogger - simply set up a free blog and write whatever you please. If you blog on a semi-regular basis then, congratulations, you're now, officially, a bona fide blogger.

Journalists, on the other hand, tend to be paid professionals - backed by a corporation with proofreaders and fact-checkers - whereas all but a few bloggers do it pro bono (or receive a trivial amount of incidental ad revenue).

Key Difference
I, having been both a paid and unpaid journalist and blogger, noticed one key difference between blogging and journalism...

Journalist tend to report the facts and interview (quote) witnesses. To put a fine point on it, journalists report what witnesses say.

Bloggers, on the other hand, tend to write essays from their personal point of view. Many times, if a blogger does quote a witness, the witness was probably not speaking directly to the author (i.e. the blogger heard the quote on T.V. or Twitter, etc.)

(Side note: Is this the future of reporting, complete with witness citations?)

Bloggers tend to write in first (I) or second (you) person. Journalist tend to write in third person with first hand quotes from witnesses.

These key differences are not hard and fast rules, they're simply generalizations.

Let's look at it a different way. How many blog posts have quotes from multiple first hand witnesses expressing different opinions? Not many.

Just to be clear, I am, in no way, favoring journalism over blogging, or vice versa; rather, I'm simply pointing out a key difference between the two.

Purpose
Rather than debate whether journalism is more important than blogging, it's best to realize that each serve a different purpose.

The purpose of journalism is to report the facts and record events for a (daily) historic purpose. Many regularly scheduled publications are official newspapers of record - in other words, a private or public company authorized by the government to publish public or legal notices. (Conversely, I am not aware of any "blog of record" which serves this purpose.)

While blogs can have many different purposes, their best use, as Dave Winer has described for more than a decade, is to "Narrate your work." You can think of blogs as both professional diaries for discussion and debate as well as a place for describing personal experiences.

Neither a single news article can define journalism nor a single post define blogging. Rather, it's left as an exercise for the reader.

1 comment:

Sean Rasmussen said...

There are tons of writers and journalists shifting from their career to blogging. Blogging is much more than common writing, but it enables you to cover a vast topic depending on your writing style.