Bloggers vs. Journalists


I remember a few years ago sitting in a war room full of solemn agency and client folk at a certain auto manufacturer. A new vehicle of theirs was just about to launch to the public and although it would be 30 days until the embargo lifted for the print mags to “break the news” of its arrival, the new product had already leaked online. What made it worse, the vehicle was already receiving thousands of negative comments regarding its design, alleged powertrain, and ergonomics.

“I want every blogger’s head on my desk tomorrow. They get nothing from us.” our client said, to the nodding approval of the anonymous agency faces in the room.

Now admittedly, I wasn’t feeling brave enough to challenge a very pissed off director on the virtues of the blogosphere. I did however decide to take notes from the meeting, race back to my office and converge with a group of inter-agency colleagues to discuss how we avoid pouring even more gasoline on the fire with the very people we needed to learn from: bloggers.

See, what my friends in yesteryear never quite grasped, was that bloggers aren’t our enemies. Unless we considered consumers enemies. Because bloggers, just like you, me, my clients, my colleagues and my mother for that matter are all consumers. And consumers have rights to opinions.

With that, I was a little taken aback tonight when I learned that the Dallas Mavericks decided to go against the NBA’s policy of allowing bloggers access to NBA lockerooms by banning them.

Now I haven’t spoken to Mark Cuban, and I have no idea why the ban was instituted other than reading that there just wasn’t enough room for both credentialed journalists and bloggers (though other sources site a rift between a blogger reporting on friction between coach vs. owner prompted the ban). However I would argue that journalists and bloggers, though eerily similar in the mediums they use to reach their audiences, are distinctly different (for now) and deserve equal time amongst their subjects of interest.

In an ironic twist, the best written perspective on differences between blogging and journalism can be found on Mark’s brother’s blog! In a post titled “When is a blogger a journalist and a journalist a blogger?“, Brian Cuban writes, “Who fires a blogger?”

“Bloggers, including myself, do nothing more than offer opinions and personal observations. Including myself. Our content is basically op-eds. We are not subject to any educational requirements, standards of content or accountability. There are journalists that blog, but again, there is a huge difference between what they put out with their “journalist hat” on and their blogger hat…. The biggest difference is accountability on multiple levels as a journalist.”

Further substantiating Brian’s point is a commenter, ‘Dr. Juice”, who very eloquently describes his opinion of differentiating between blogger and journalist:

I think you’ve hit on the core difference between bloggers and journalists: raw information vs. information in a context. I think bloggers do more than just offer opinions, they offer an opinion that frames a piece of information in a certain context. For example, there was much bru-ha-ha when Apple released the development kit for the iPhone because of the restrictions it had in it. But, some of the most informative posts came from Mac developers who gave their opinion, but also framed it within a certain context. So the commentary went from simply being “This sucks” or “this is awesome” to “This might suck, but here’s the thinking behind it, here’s what that means to us, and here’s what that means to you, the users,” and that commentary was much more valuable than just an “opinion.”

I concede everything Brian and Dr. J discussed in their blogs and subsequent comments should be considered well thought out and well written. Yet it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.,

Just as similar as Web 2.0 and the rise of widgets has changed web strategies for many brands (going from destination to distributed content), journalism 2.0 is just beginning to poke its head through the soil of media. We have evolved very quickly through connections, primarily digital mind you, into a did you know society. Blogging, Twitter, Jaiku, IM, Meebo, SMS, and every other point of communication has armed our society with ways to information once thought unthinkable a decade ago. And as our consumption habits for information evolves, so do the products from which we consume, and ultimately so do the ways from which we learn of those products.

I don’t need to read an article through the lens of a single journalist, when I can comb through technorati to find variances in opinion across multiple lenses via the blogosphere. Blogging is opinion driven, yes, but it also gives another layer of dimensional thought for us to consider.

For example, if you don’t consider blogging journalism, then you’ve never read this blog on the war.

Journalism will never change – it’s an industry built on the proliferation of information. Stories will be written and researched. Yet the way from which they are delivered will. Blogging is Journalism just as opinions are editorials. Segregating one from the other is nothing but a cultural step in the opposite direction to progress.

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