Bloggers Vs Journalists

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I think the issue of Bloggers *versus* Journalists is a bit of a red herring -- despite some keyboard-rattling on either side, it's like pitting Soap Operas against Professional Sports, there's just not enough overlap of intent, resources, or style for this to be a terribly fruitful avenue of exploration. Besides, there are those like Andrew Sullivan [1] and Dan Gillmor [2] who occupy both camps.

More interesting than any opposition, I think, are the differences that make the opposition a false one -- especially those that concern the source of authority, the relation of the reader to the writer, and the relation of the writer to the subject matter.

Bloggers write chiefly about what interests them. A blog may be confined to one aspect or another of the blogger's interests, but it's unlikely to be about something the blogger actually has to research.

But only the very luckiest of journalists get to write all day only about their favorite pet interests. Those who are paid are most often paid to write about things that appeal to some abstracted concept of "news value" or "reader service", and journalists are often admonished *not* to regard their *own* interests as typical of the readership. This may be the biggest difference between journalism and blogging, and why journalists bristle at what's perceived as the "self-indulgence" of the blog world.

Mark Bernstein says in FindingTheTime that his blogging doesn't take much time. This is, in part, because blogs don't usually involve becoming expert on a subject you knew nothing about yesterday. Journalism often does.

Early in my career, I wrote features for the Lifestyle section of the Boston Phoenix. The only one I ever did that was on a subject of interest to me was one rating the amenities of various city laundromats -- a piece I am still proud of, because it was fun, and I got to share that fun with readers. All the others were assigned. I think most people don't realize this -- my mother-in-law didn't, for example. There was quite a row the week my article on baby furniture appeared.


Related: KayceeNicole | Other WeblogIssues

-- Last edited October 27, 2002

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