Since the advent of blogging, there has been debate over the idea if those who work in online media are truly journalists or not. Then the question gets even more muddied when you ponder if bloggers can be journalists, what dictates which bloggers are, and which aren’t? What about journalists that now have to blog as part of their job? It just gets more and more confusing, and no one seems to be able to suss out how you define any of the terms any more.
In a recent poll by PR Newswire that surveyed 1,568 traditional and non-traditional media and 1,670 PR practitioners, it was discovered that 52% of bloggers now consider themselves journalists. Just a year ago the answer was only 33%, and while there is no indication of why there was such a massive jump in the reply, it definitely makes you think about the defining of terms.
Personally I think the lines have become so helplessly blurred at this point that there is no easy way to define it. If your blog is about going to Aunt Edna’s for Easter, chances are you are just a blogger. If I was to only maintain my personal blog, I would even call myself a blogger, but because I get paid to conduct interviews, am on press release lists, track down my own original stories and so on, I would consider myself a journalist even though my work is in non-traditional media.
While there are some who say it is impossible for people who work solely in new media to ever be considered journalists, the New York City police department was sued in 2009 over denying press credentials to three bloggers, and the city lost. Since that time, a new policy has been passed that would allow bloggers to get a two-year press credential by showing that they have covered six press events in the city that have restricted access. While not a perfect solution, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
Every time someone says to me that people who work in online media can’t be considered journalists, I point to sites such as The Huffington Post. Is anyone going to try to say the people who work at that site, one of the most popular on the Internet, and break numerous stories of their own, are not journalists?
I actually thought when I first pitched this post past my editors here at TechnoBuffalo that I would say if you’ve never been paid to write a blog post would be the simplest way to define it, but even that doesn’t work. I think every person has to define it for themselves. Even though I think of myself as a journalist, if you don’t, that’s your right, just as it is my right to consider myself one. (although I still say posts about your Easter trip don’t qualify, but that’s just me.)
What say you? Are you a blogger or a journalist? What do you think defines each?