Bloggers ARE journalists

I’m calling it. Bloggers are journalists.

What’s prompted this seemingly outrageous outburst on my behalf?

I’m so glad you asked. A couple of things really.

The first was reading about Eden Riley’s account of the Blogging and Journalism panel at the Melbourne Writers Festival.

This statement by Eden really got me thinking:

As a blogger, I have an internal entrenched bloggism against myself, that journalism is “proper” and blogging is … not. I hold hope that my (probably widely-shared) view will change. I hope that blogging will be an inherent and valued part of the new global media landscape.

Eden, I’m here to tell you what I told online journalism students at QUT yesterday.

I think blogging IS “proper”.

And I think blogging is an increasingly valued part of the new global media landscape. Especially this CHANGING global media landscape.

Bloggers are journalists

We are information hunters, gatherers and disseminators. Yes, we add a personal slant to this information dissemination – that’s the key to successful blogging – but how is that personal opinion sharing any different from a newspaper or magazine columnist? Or an editor writing a newspaper’s editor’s letter?

What I blog here on Styling You is not all that different from what I wrote and published in a weekly glossy newspaper magazine. The big difference is that I actually connect with my readers. My readers are not some marketing department-generated ideal.

They are real and they talk to you. And you talk back to them. It’s a conversation.

It’s a naive, mythical ideal that “real” journalists are out there working and given untold time to work on investigative pieces in the name of upholding truth. The truth is that a general newsroom journo will be fed a “story” list each morning by their chief-of-staff and asked to file said stories to fit allocated “holes” in a newspaper or time slots in a news bulletin.

Yes, journalists apparently work to a Code of Ethics but (from 20 years’ working experience) it’s pretty damn toothless – particularly if you are working for a commercial media organisation. If I had a dollar for every time the phrase “commercial consideration” was uttered in relation to including an advertiser in a story … I would probably be blogging poolside from a tropical island.

Conversely, since entering the world of blogging, it’s been my experience that bloggers by and large have amazing personal ethics which have translated seamlessly to their blogs.

The fact is the media landscape has changed and will continue to change. And it was in the context of this change that I was asked to lecture these online journalism students.

Every one of those students has a blog. They HAVE to blog as part of their course (snaps to the course organisers for that). Yesterday I urged them to continue their blog long after the last assessment has been handed in.

Why?

We are journalists, yes. But we are more than that.

As bloggers we are independent publishers.

We are the sub-editor, editor-in-chief, the advertising manager, the marketing manager, the circulation manager, pay roll, admin and the tea lady (I do tea very well in case you were wondering).

That’s one giant skill-set. A skill-set that will increasingly be in demand by traditional media organisations and new media organisations globally.

So, a student continuing to blog even when they don’t have to for their GPA definitely gives them an edge over a student not blogging.

A student blogging is continually “feeding” a living, breathing online CV. If they want to work in print media, I encouraged them to bring their best writing to the blogging table. If they want to work in radio, start podcasting regularly. If they want to be in TV, get vlogging.

You never, ever know who’s reading, listening and watching. Opportunities can come if you open yourself to them.

But beyond a blog being an online CV … each and every one of those seated in that lecture theatre could potentially build their own job from blogging.

It’s not a possible employment picture I painted 12 months ago to students in the same subject.

But the media landscape has changed. It IS possible now (I’ve blogged previously about the many ways to make an income from blogging and outlined these to the students present).

And it will become increasingly more so.

———————————————————————————————-

In light of the shocking news this week that a disgusting display of cyber bullying has seen Charlotte Dawson hopsitalised as a result of vicious personal attacks on Twitter, I also asked these students to think about whether blogging was for them.

It isn’t for everyone.

Blogging is personal, no matter how seemingly benign the topic about which you choose to blog.

As a blogger you share yourself, not just a story about someone else. If you have an opinion, not everyone will agree with it.

And in a sad, sad, sad indictment on society today, too many people are going beyond constructive criticism (or simply choosing to click away) when responding to a point of view in which they may not believe.

These cowardly, gutless gits see online as their bullying playground, buzzing around like wasps intent on stinging their prey with nasty words and personal attacks.

To them I send a timely reminder: there are REAL people at the end of your stings. Real people who deserve respect.

THE ROT NEEDS TO STOP.

Quite frankly, my late grandmother, who taught me at a very early age that if you haven’t anything nice to say to someone, don’t say anything at all, would be turning in her grave.

———————————————————————————————-

Share your blogging know-how

Thanks so much to everyone who plays along with my Saturday blogging linky. Sharing your blogging knowledge with other bloggers and potential bloggers really is how this blogging world best goes round. It’s a bit like having a mini online conference here every week.

Remember if you want to join in, just add your link below. The link needs to be to a post ABOUT BLOGGING (all others will be deleted). Please fill in the box where it says “name” like this: BLOG NAME: Blog post title. That way your blog gets a plug and if you include the title of your post, you’ll attract readers interested in the topic.


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  • weebirdy

    Totally agree (as a journalist/journalism lecturer AND blogger). Which is why bloggers should be paid journalists’ rates. Or be covered by the MEAA.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Or our own industry body!

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  • Helen Hayden

    I find myself most frequently attracted to blogs that are either driven purely by personal motives to do something and share it with people (melbourne gastronome) or written from a journalistic objective non-sponsored perspective such as frockwriter. When I see blogs with products provided by sponsor I feel the degree of trust I have with the blogger is lessened, even if the sponsorship is acknowledged. I can’t help but feel they will not say anything bad against a product they have been provided with for free.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Fair point Helen … I’d also like you to consider all the journalists (at magazines in particular) who receive product and never disclose but write favourably about it because they come from advertisers. Having worked on that side of the fence and now this one – having a blogger disclose any free or sponsored product/content is much more up front and in my opinion more ethical.

  • Pingback: Bloggers are journalists | Convergence Journalism | Scoop.it

  • http://twitter.com/my_vintage_vow Trudie Bristow

    We live in a time and world now where people want the “reality” angel. It’s no wonder blogs and those behind them are on the rise. People want real news, real info, real reviews, real opinions and not media statements and soundbytes bloggers deliver so much more than that on so many different levels and platforms. I think on many levels bloggers are more diverse.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Yes, Trudie – and if you notice how mainstream media tackles stories these days it’s all through “real” people. For example, say you have a story about the Federal budget, a journo will interview the people mostly likely be affected by the budget because as readers or viewers we want to connect with the people behind the story. And yes, bloggers do that very well by telling the story through themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/my_vintage_vow Trudie Bristow

    We live in a time and world now where people want the “reality” angel. It’s no wonder blogs and those behind them are on the rise. People want real news, real info, real reviews, real opinions and not media statements and soundbytes bloggers deliver so much more than that on so many different levels and platforms. I think on many levels bloggers are more diverse.

  • http://www.tinysavages.com/ Carli

    Journalists usually take years, even decades, to build a reputation via the support of an employer who helps with fact-checking and errors among other things. Since blogging is still fairly new I’m not entirely comfortable saying they are one and the same but that is not to say I don’t agree with what you said in the lecture. Who’s to say what the career path to journalism will look like in thirty years time. Building an online presence is definitely an advantage in my opinion.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Ah, yes in theory this SHOULD happen. The reality is that there are too few journos in a newsroom loaded up with too many stories to complete in a day. The checking system is flawed by resource pressures on sub editors too – not enough of them and many of them working in a central hub away from the region about which a story might need editing with local knowledge. I understand you might not be comfortable with saying a blogger is a journalist but the state of play in journalism is not all that it should be.

  • http://twitter.com/LatherRinseRpt Michaela

    Great post, Nikki, I love that you really wave the flag for bloggers being legit members of the media. However, I don’t see bloggers as journalists, but instead a whole new exciting branch of media. They report and connect to readers in a totally different way than journalists do, a way that is both personal and authoritative and often involves invoking a lot more trust and affection for the blogger than an audience would hold for a single journalist.
    It’s nonsense that bloggers and journos aren’t able to co-exist happily – they each provide a service that isn’t 100% achievable by the other, and are equally important voices.

    While anyone can be a blogger (being a good blogger is a different matter!), it’s notoriously hard to become a journalist. I had to study journalism for four years, do rounds of work experience during the same time period four times a year, move interstate and intern without pay for 6 months before getting a look in at my current role as a travel journalist. When I decided to start blogging, all I had to do was grab my laptop, register on Blogger and belt out 500 words about my pink hair. That’s blogging, it’s writing, but it’s not journalism.
    Again, great pro-blogger piece, but I think bloggers deserve to be recognised as having their own place in the media spectrum, rather than be lumped under the fits-all of journalist.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think for journalism to evolve media organistions need to work on how they can better connect with readers. Bloggers do this well and it was something sorely missing my time as a journo. Yes, anyone can start a blog but once you have built a readership, you are an information publisher and have responsibilies inherent with that. Same as a journo has when working for an offline publication.

      • http://twitter.com/LatherRinseRpt Michaela

        Do you think it does a disservice to bloggers though, referring to them as journalists? Like you said, they have more to offer in regards to connecting with an audience than older media sources, and being grouped with journalists doesn’t recognise that very important point of difference.

        • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

          Perhaps yes.

  • http://twitter.com/Pretty_Fluffy Serena Faber Nelson

    Great post Nikki! I did a journalism degree but went straight into lifestyle TV – I was not a fan of the newsroom environment at all!

    I’m now a blogger as well and I love the wonderful, fresh approach to information that bloggers bring into the media.
    However I do think we, as bloggers, need to be careful about calling ourselves journalists. When I think of journalists, I think of true investigative reporting, sound research and well written / edited prose.

    I agree, there are some bloggers that have more journalistic talent than those that work at major national news publications. However on the flip side anyone can open a blogspot account and that doesn’t make them a journalist. Just like being a fabulous home cook doesn’t make you a chef.

    I think rather than calling ourselves journalists, we can proudly say we a professional bloggers and writers – I’m certainly proud to do so! x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think there is only a small percentage of people who actually like the newsroom environment.. Death knocks and covering road accidents were my worst nightmare. And in my experience commercial media has no time or budget for investigative reporting, souund research and well written and edited prose. Sad but true.

      • http://twitter.com/Pretty_Fluffy Serena Faber Nelson

        Completely agree. I can only talk from a TV point of view, but the series Frontline hit it out of the park in my opinion :)
        I honestly do believe great bloggers offer something much better than your average journo. I guess it’s more a question of whether the blog is a hobby/personal venture or more professional.
        Great to discuss though.

  • Desire Empire

    I am so glad you girls are outing the bullying thing for what it is this week. Just pure unnecessary nastiness. I have never understood why people who are kind enough to share some of themselves are worthy of trollesque behaviour. As one who has been bullied from the get go I am so glad that you girls are out there saying it is totes uncool.

    Love your blogging insights each Saturday Nikki
    Carolyn

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      As online citizens, we all need to play our part I think. It’s just not on.

  • Evelyn

    I disagree. I am currently studying journalism and I won’t be able to get full-time journalism work without my degree! 20 or so years ago, there probably was a chance to be a journalist without one, but certainly not now (I spent almost 2 years trying to get published without a degree, before I decided to get ‘qualified’). That is the big difference. To be a journalist you need a degree and some experience. To be a blogger, you don’t need any qualifications. Anyone can be a blogger.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      When I did my degree, I sat in my first journalism lecture 27 years ago where they told the 300 present that only 30 would be there at the end of three years and that of that 30 only 10 would get a job in journalism. They were right. It was just as tough job market then – tougher because new media was a figment of a sci-fi writer’s imagination. A blog can now be your job or an amazing CV to springboard you into one. Yes, anyone can start a blog but to make something of it you need to have passion, skill and determination … just like any career.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=621974740 Carolyn Wilson

      Last year the SMH employed very few new journalists, they did however employ a boy straight from high school. They knew he would be a good journalist and wanted to mould him, he needed no degree.
      I’m not saying a degree is worthless, far from it. I’m just letting you know that it’s not necessarily true that you can only get work with a degree.

  • http://theplasticdiaries.com Kimmi @ The Plastic Diaries

    As always, everything you said is spot on. I wish I could speak as eloquently as you in these subjects.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Ahh, thank-you. This one was “sponsored” by Friday night vinos ;)

  • Louisa

    I can’t seem to find my previous comment but I wanted to add that what I think I am trying to say is that I think blogging and bloggers are entirely legitimate but I don’t think they need to be called journalists in order to be considered legit. Does that make sense?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Perfect sense!

  • Louisa

    I really loved this post Nikki but I have to say I think that SOME blogs/bloggers are journalists but the majority are not. I am very uncomfortable with the idea that anyone would consider me a journalist – yes I have a voice, a story, and people who read my blog but surely being a journalist requires more than those things? Most of the blogs I read I wouldn’t consider journalism – they are valuable and offer a richness and beauty to their readers that I value highly, but they are different…new media yes, but “media”… I’m not convinced as yet. xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I think time will tell Louisa … we are new media and I think bloggers doing it well are taking a market share of mainstream media. I know personally I devote more time to blogs for info and entertainment … time that magazines and newspapers would have previously got.

      • Louisa

        I definitely think it’s true that some blogs are taking a market share of mainstream media (I think the negative spin one particular article this year took was strongly linked to the fact that the bloggers it ‘featured’ were taking a large part of it’s market share!) but that doesn’t mean that ALL blogs and all bloggers are journos… and personally, I wouldn’t put myself in the same category as a journo – I think I have really different goals to a journo and that my blog has a different outcome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=508054727 Herrin Larkan

    Hasn’t the meaning of the role of journalism been watered down enough? Sure it’s taken a bit of a beating over the last few years and public perception is low it seems to me, but the internet, being such an open platform has left people needing the same skills that journalists need in order to tell the difference.

    We need to raise the standard of what journalism means. Critical thinking, research, efficiency of language and well informed opinion.

    Let’s just be honest about who we are and spare us the ego stroking of needing to call yourself something. There’s enough of that already.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Ah Herrin, you’ve obviously missed the bit about me actually working in a newsroom for 20 years as a paid journalist. It was my career. And there was no more critical thinking, research, efficiency of language than can be found on blogs today. It’s not about ego stroking, it’s about having worked in one environment and now another. And knowing which one I’d rather be in.

  • Posie Blogs

    I think well written blogs are great journalism, i often read magazines & newspaper articles & think, seriously, you have a degree, qualifications & were paid to write this piece, it’s AWFUL, un-researched, unoriginal & boring!! I have degrees in psychology & pharmacology, write a creative lifestyle blog because i have 4 children & 12 years ago, switched to doing what i love the most, i just wish blogging was around back then when i was a young mum. Better late than never, loving it now!!
    This week i destroyed my blog by updating a template i didn’t like or want, it forced me to take a couple of days away from my blog, approach if fresh & update it, it was wonderful & freeing. Love Posiehttp://posiepatchworkblog.blogspot.com.au/

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Posie, I am the same. I get much more of my reading enjoyment and information from blogs than what I used to from magazines and newspapers. I too wish that blogging was around when I had my first babies 17 years ago but now have wholeheartedly embraced this community.

  • http://twitter.com/alexricia Alex

    Well said Nikki!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Alex x

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I am no Journalist so really don’t have a clue what I’m talking about but,I know what I like to read and comment on,and YES Nikki you are a valued member of the blogging community ,and in this day and age of online media ,you ARE a journalist Nikki,I like what I read on your pages ,I would not keep coming back day after day if I didn’t ,I live by that old saying,that was what I was taught by my parents and I have taught my children the same ,”if you haven’t got anything nice to say ,say nothing at all”.I think cyber bullying should be treated like all bullying ,it is shameful what I see written on blogs and facebook etc.Be nice people and treat people how you would like to be treated.Report abuse and block all comments that are nasty and uncalled for.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Lisa, for me it’s people like you who do come back every day and say hi who make this the best job I’ve ever had. Thank YOU X

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        My absolute pleasure Nikki xx

  • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

    I am ridiculously under qualified to comment on being a journalist, or not but I agree on the subject. Journalists haven’t always been trained in classrooms, once they were trained at the editors side or in the field. I’m sure SOME of that continues today. Bloggers earn their journalist stripes with their consideration and effort to providing excellent content for their readers. I think.

    And Ms D. Oh how my heart ached for her and I wish her a speedy recovery to her savvy and fiery self. I am all for outing bullies whether it be in public, the school yard, online or in the workplace. I think it’s essential for each and every one of us to report abuse when we see it to those in charge. In this case, twitter, so accounts can be shut down and evidence gathered for an appropriate legal response. Report and block. REPORT AND BLOCK. That’s my motto.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mel, a journalist can receive all the training in the world – on and off the job – but that does not necessarily make them any good! These days they mostly do a 3 year degree that will involve some kind of internship. Whenever interns came to us at the paper I worked at, you could tell which would actually make something of it … and they were a minority. You can be taught all the skills in the world but if you don’t have a feel or drive to implement them, that piece of paper is worth squat.

  • http://funandvjs.blogspot.com/ Brismod

    As a blogger and given what I write about, I don’t consider myself a journalist, despite studying journalism back in the day at UQ. I think the world of blogs is far too broad to warrant such a blanket label. I read a lot of blogs which are used merely as a social connection rather than being an information source – blogs which are used as an extension of facebook, if you like. For me, that is not journalism. But that said there are many excellent bloggers who write well, are objective and check facts etc and certainly rival what journalists do in traditional media. xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Any time we publish thoughts and opinions we are publishing information. That’s pretty much where I’m coming from with this. The very fact that blogs are read by others shows that they are offering info that others want to read. That makes blogs very much a part of the greater media landscape. The posts may not be objective but nor are columnist opinions in newspapers and magazines either.

  • http://twitter.com/edenland edenland

    Well said, Nikki! Remember that piece on the morning tea a few
    months ago? It got pulled because Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes broke up and they needed six pages to explain it.

    I will work on my entrenched bloggism. Xxx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Own it Eden. Own it. And ah, yes I remember. Should have run. Stupid Tom and Katie sell papers though!

  • Carly Findlay

    I was at that panel at mwf and agree other the discussion there and what you said here. The discussion validated my skills and role as a blogger. I have used my journalism studes for my blog. Re student cvs – there was a statement by Henry Finder from the New Yorker at the panel – “A Journalism apprenticeship is not something you can do in a low profile way now.”

    I took lots of notes and when I get time I’ll type up a post with more discussion from the panel.

    • Carly

      Agree with, not agree other!

      • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

        Oh, I love that from Henry Finder. It’s true – and quite an advantage for students who blog and use social media constructively.

  • BabyMacBeth

    Great post Nikki! You are such a great advocate for blogging – always teaching and sharing your skills with QUALITY, timely information. Well done to you lady! x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Beth. You know what? I truly think this old chick was just marking time in her previous career waiting for technology to catch up. I always wanted to write in the style of a blogger, I just never had the medium in which to do it. x

  • http://www.theveggiemama.com Veggie Mama

    Ugh I know all about the spoon-fed story lists and hole-fillers. And I still recall my utter shock when I found out restaurant reviews are positive if they advertise with the publication. There’s very little “true” journalism left, and lots of it is just entertainment fuelled by ad revenue printed on paper.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You’ve worked in it and were shocked. Imagine how shocked the public – the readers – would be to know this and more. True journalism has been both killed by the bottom line but also by readers wanting different kind of “news”. They want to be informed and entertained. I saw a big shift in that focus in the mid to late ’90s.

  • Debyl1

    Brilliant Nikki.xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Deby x

  • http://poppyseedbaby.com/ Christie Connelly

    Well said Nikki! Love your Saturday blogging posts and hope to get my act together to join in soon… I’m speaking at a conference in November about blogger ethics and working with PRs, and will be discussing some of the points you mention above – especially how as bloggers we wear many hats!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Christie. These things need to be discussed. PRs are very much a part of mainstream media. Bloggers are now being PRed the same way. What many bloggers don’t realise is that just because a PR sends them a press release, doesn’t mean they have to write about it. The PR is putting it out there in the hope that the blogger will. Same as they would to a print or broadcast journalist.