I have been blogging since 2004 and I have made some success of it too. There still seems to be some confusion in different quarters about what blogging is all about. This has also produced certain expectations from bloggers. Lots of people are making demands of bloggers that should not be. Quite a number of bloggers themselves are struggling with their identity. I have decided to bell the cat and shed some light on the issues involved.
The question is, Is blogging journalism, or Is blogging a form of journalism? I tackle the question in details and get to the meat of the matter.
What Is Blogging And Who Is A Blogger?
A blogger is someone that writes a blog. A blog is an online journal that a writer can use to share his ideas, thoughts, expertise, or interests. Therefore, a blogger is someone that writes his ideas and thoughts online. Note the personal touch to that definition. Blogging is about self-expression. Bloggers write about their lives, their experiences, their expertise, their passions, and their opinions, and the personal touch is always present.
A blogger is like Oprah Winfrey on her TV show. She’s not there to dish out news or information dispassionately. She’s there for her show – HER interests. While the show ran, she rooted for politicians (remember her support for Barrack Obama during the elections?), promoted products and services, and talked about her “favourite things”, among other things. Oh, and if you as a blogger have ever thought of quitting, Oprah too once considered quitting in the 12th season of her show. She didn’t and we know how successful she became.
A company can run a blog and do blogging, but you will find that the information posted there is also personal – things of direct interest to the company.
Is blogging journalism?
Because many do not understand blogging, they expect journalism from bloggers. A company executive once said to a group of bloggers that he had a problem with people not getting all sides of a story before publishing. He was wrong to expect that of bloggers. Bloggers express how they feel about issues. That is all.
On the other hand, a journalist is someone who writes for a magazine or newspaper, usually writing news items and is required to tell all sides of a story. Journalists are required to be unbiased and to refrain from expressing their opinions in news stories. Journalists are required to have a number of different sources before publishing an article. Objectivity is key in journalism.
Not so blogging. Is blogging journalism?
Blogging is not journalism. Bloggers are not journalists. Blogging involves self-expression. Journalism seeks to disseminate facts as unbiased and be as impersonal as possible. A newspaper house may run a blog as part of their operations, and allow their writers to blog there, in which case those writers can get personal there. As an example, GSMArena is a news and reviews website, and they do a good job of being fair and unbiased in news reporting. They recently also added a blog to the site, where members of the team can be less journalistic and personal.
In their pure forms, journalism and blogging are two different beasts, though they may have similarities and may overlap.
Examples And Scenarios
For example, when I blog here on MOBILITYarena, I am writing from the standpoint of MY interests, MY experiences, and MY views. Broadly, my interest here is mobile. But I am more interested in certain types of mobile and certain services. As such, I tend to write more about those.
I also write about things that interest my core readers. If my readers want to read about Android phones, I will write about those. I am not obligated to write about every smartphone platform on the planet if neither myself nor my readers have any interest in them.
I am not a journalist. I do not have the training of a journalist. I am a content creator. MobilityArena is a content platform, one specifically focused on mobile phones, gadgets, services, and apps. MobiltiyArena is not a newspaper. We do not have any journalists in our employment. What we practice here is blogging, not journalism.
We are not here to report about every mobile phone that is launched on the planet (or even here in Nigeria), or everything every network operator is doing, unless our interests lie there. We are not obligated to write about every smartphone released. We blog only about the devices, services and apps that interest US and OUR READERS. What you get primarily from here are hands-on experiences and opinions, as well as some news items, especially where our interests overlap, but we are not journalists. Our writers here are not journalists.
If you are a journalist and looking for a job, you will quickly find that joining the writing team of a blog is a different ball game from journalism. The rules are different. The scope of work is different. You have to put journalism aside there.
If you are a blogger and join an online newspaper, you are in for a culture shock too. Journalism is more detailed, more demanding, and has strict standards that have to be adhered to. They are two dofferent terrains.
What Of Websites Powered By Blog Technology?
A website or blog that is set up specifically to be a news site is obligated to adhere to the standards of journalism, and should be impersonal and devoid of bias. unfortunately, this is not always so, as it is observed that several so-called tech news sites are very biased in their reporting. Which is sad and muddles things up for onlookers.
Now, take note of the following technicalities: a blog (WordPress, Blogger, etc) can be used for non-blogging purposes e.g. to run a corporate website, an educational site, and even a news site. In those scenarios, that is NOT blogging, though the site is powered by blogging technology. For example, a newspaper’s website may be powered by WordPress. Still, it is a news site – a professional news site. There is a difference between running a website powered by blog technology and blogging itself.
How All These Affect You As A Blogger
If you want to start a ‘blog’, you need to decide what you want it to be – a blog, or a professionally run news site. Be clear about your position. If you are interested in running a news site, it isn’t a bad idea to get a quick course in journalism, and also ensure that you employ trained journalists (formal or informal training).
But decide where you stand. Then go do it.
Blogging versus Journalism: Quick Summary
In summary, bloggers are not journalists. Journalism is about getting facts and balanced, impersonal information across to the public, while blogging is about self-expression. Bloggers write about their lives, their experiences, their passions, their opinions, and whatever the heck they want to write about. The dividing line is there and clear enough.
Are you a blogger or are you interested in blogging? Has this article helped you in any way? Do you have any more questions about blogging that you would love me to answer? Please fire away in the comments section.
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