Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I think the DNC could turn into a key moment in the discussion about bloggers versus journalists. I've generally been rather low-key on this issue, taking a position that bloggers and mass media should work together and that bloggers and professional journalists had different strengths and weaknesses. I am getting a sense that an increasing number of professional journalists are beginning to feel threatened or at least seem to be trying to belittle bloggers as a source of news.

Jeff Jarvis addresses this question today by quoting Tom Rosenstiel on the question, what is a journalist?

Tom Rosenstiel - Boston Globe

- A journalist tries to tell the literal truth and get the facts right, does not pass along rumors, engages in verifying, and makes that verification process as transparent as possible.
- A journalist's goal is to inspire public discussion, not to help one side win or lose. One who tries to do the latter is an activist.
- Neutrality is not a core principle of journalism. But the commitment to facts, to public consideration, and to independence from faction, is.
- A journalist's loyalty to his or her audience, even above employer, is paramount.
Under this definition, a lot of what we are calling media or press is not journalism and I DARE any professional journalist to try to defend any big media company of sticking to the definition above without fail.

I've been interviewing a lot of professional journalists about "What is journalism? What makes a good journalist?" They usually talk about vetting sources, portraying things accurately, and other things that any blogger who is used to being ripped to shreds in comments by their readers on their blog do as second nature. My conclusion is that much of good journalism is just common sense, and I would even assert that compared to journalists who don't write in their name, have fact-check desks to do their fact-checking and editors to fix their grammar, bloggers are much more accountable and have to take it in the face compared to their anonymous counterparts in the mass media.

Is mass media more rigorous than blogs? Remember the "Rumsfeld bans phone cameras" story that UPI and AFP ran and all the media picked up? Xeni at Boing Boing called the defense department and debunked the story and I updated my entry as a lot of the mass media were still going to press with the story. Did they print any corrections? I didn't see any. And this isn't an isolated incident. I've seen many cases where blogs have fact-checked and vetted stories that the media have just passed over.

I'm not blaming the mass media for their lack of ability be as nibble as blogs, but characterizing bloggers as a bunch of amateurs with no news value is really silly. Particularly annoying are the articles that seem to be picking a fight with the blogs. Maybe as Mahatma Ghandi said, "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Dan, maybe you and "We the Media" better get over here before the real fighting starts.

As always, I like David Weinberger's. perspective on this.

David Weinberger
For example, after the breakfast, the bloggers were swarmed by the media. "You know one difference between you and us," said a friendly guy from NPR, "We don't applaud for the speakers." But, heck, it was Howard Dean and I'll be damned if I'm not going to stand and clap for him.


Since we're talking about generalities no matter how we dice this topic, isn't the principal difference between bloggers and journalists that most bloggers DON'T do original reporting?

Thoughtful commentary has its place in the blogosphere--and outside it--and writing good commentary demands thorough research—but not necessarily original research.

Ron, I generally agree, but I think there are bloggers who do original reporting and I think the number will increase, although the percentage many not.

Josh Marshall has this:I've never been much for the blog triumphalism that seems always to be so much a part of the blog universe. Blogs make up a small, specialized niche within the interdependent media ecosystem -- mainly not producers but primary or usually secondary consumers -- like small field mice, ferrets, or bats.

Ron, in a contry like Belgium, there's not so much original reporting either, except local politics. I'm interested in Latin American politics and for the needs I have, Blog sources like NarcoNews or even Okke Ornstein's Blog DO provide original reporting. Except from Foreign Policiy magazine, you won't find much original reporting either from Journalists, who mainly duplicate what they get from US administration (cf. Bolivia recently).

I must agree with Joi's point that the some (frustrated?) journalists (today a column in De Standaard, Belgium's supposedly 'quality newspaper') provide not exactly an objective image of what is truly happening in Blogosphere. Well, what is objective is that their number of readers is going down...


Well, God knows I'm not getting paid to blog ... maybe that's the core difference between what I do and what a "real journalist" does.

Also, I talk about my cat alot.

Let's put us back in the Iraq pre-American Invasion...who would you believe: the national (and only) INA-news agency or the story of an independent blogger (Dear_Raed)

That's why blogs are interesting.

And off course not every blog is telling the truth. Neither is every newspaper...

Journalists are the ones typing with one frantic eye on the clock, and the other on the telephone, as they try to figure out how to say the same damn thing but with 35 fewer words. And they've heard of a galley proof but thought it was something a chef does.

Just like the blogosphere today, there will only be a handful of bloggers at the top in the future. By the time 'we' (bloggers) hit mainstream though, some of us will have acquired what it takes to survive and thrive in the new media landscape.

Bloggers need consistency, reliability, honesty and personalization. And yes, original articles and research are good as well. With modern media the way it is, though, it's not going to take much for a blogger to meet or exceed the 'real journos'...

With all the talk about checking etc, here is something - Maybe as Mahatma Ghandi said,... Well it is Gandhi. ANd that's as easy as doing a quick search on google.

I think that a lot of the discussion around journalism and blogging confuses the blogging medium with the act of blogging itself.

The medium is fantastic, placing real time publishing in the hands of nearly anyone with a computer and internet access. But saying that the blogging medium offers unparalleled opportunity to write and to be heard doesn't mean that most bloggers are journalists, any more than most CB radio enthusiasts are professional broadcasters.

To me, if a writer isn't doing original reporting, cultivating sources, or adhering to professional standards of rigor and ethics, it's hard to call that writer a journalist. Some blogs (and some professional journalists) definitely do meet these standards and doubtless there will be more with time.

I'm not convinced that the distinctions between the professional and non-professional writing are worth belaboring from the blogger's point of view. If blogs rise or fall based on the quality of their content and the size of their audience, who cares if the mainstream media considers them legitimate? I don't need or want a third party arbiter to tell me when I'm respectable.

Bottom line...bloggers are free agents and present it as they see it. Journalists work for for-profit entities that report what is dictated by the editors and their corporate bosses...i.e. financial interests.

I'd like to point to blogger Jessamyn West's very sensible answer to this question of blogger vs journalists.
"I'm not a journalist, I'm just a woman who has used my half-decent citation and commenting skills - with a dash of technological know-how thrown in- to create a small community of like-minded folks who can stay informed on the issues".
More on her DNC blog at

novice here but I think we need to not pay attention to the NETWORK news. it is false and prescribed with their bogus "polling the voters" and not official results.
I used to read the paper everyday and I used to listen to the news daily. No I hope blogging doens't change into those awful chatrooms. I am very concerned with the media's attention to the party politics and none of the demonstrators that accompany both. There was a demonstration in NH this past week where someone had done a 15 foot statue of Bush with his pants on fire. I WANTED TO SEE THAT!!!!!!

Novice: I do think the national media is too corporate in trying to find their "objectivity". The "unofficial poll" as well as the oficial polls are overly cited as the American "think". Well I think blogging is a way to discuss how we think without the MEDIA telling us. We had a demonstration at one of Bush's visits here in NH that had a 15 foot stature with
bush's pants on fire I did not see this in any media whatsoever. That tells me that WE DON"T COUNT. we see what they want us to see. GO BLOGGERS.

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