Are Bloggers Journalists?

Post ImageJust got back from lunch, and I decided to attend the session about bloggers and journalists, featuring Matthew Ingram, Om Malik, Michael Tippet, and Scott Karp. The Editor-In-Chief of Dose is sitting right behind me, which is kind of cool. Should bloggers be treated as journalists? Here some notes from the session:

  • Scott says bloggers can be journalists, sometimes. And blogs can be journalism, sometimes. Finding that middle ground is the tricky part. News gathering has to happen in a lot of places where it requires an institution or money.
  • Matthew seems to think the recent participatory journalism survey on The Economist is a good example of something you wouldn’t see on a blog, because of the time and effort involved. Basically, they have the resources available whereas most bloggers simply don’t.
  • Om will give the people that pay him first right of refusal on breaking stories, but will post on his blog if he can’t reach them (say if news breaks at 2 AM). Om sees the blog almost as a reporter’s notebook, more than anything else.
  • Michael says that from the perspective of consumers, this dichotomy is ridiculous. They just want pictures, stories, they want the stuff. When you’ve got 500 photos of an event coming in, you get a sense of what’s really happening. Most of the stuff reported on NowPublic is big spectacle events, things like Katrina, etc.
  • Michael says trust is important, he trusts the Globe and Mail, but he also trusts his friends.
  • Matthew says that on Google News, many of the articles are repeated, because many outlets use something like AP, so its refreshing to see photos from someone actually on the ground.
  • Om says this whole user generated media thing is a big myth. Say if you take photos on holidays, you’ve got maybe 20 good photos out of 500. Om says that 80% of the time, user generated stuff is crap, and it applies through any media. Om says there is a reason that people turn to established media outlets, like credibility and packaging.
  • Scott thinks user generated media functions in a spiking fashion, once in a while, something strikes a nerve. Matthew says it also makes it easier to find stories of interest in the future.
  • Om says that user generated media is just like forums, we’ve finally figured out how to do forums correctly, but you can’t make a big deal out of it.
  • Om isn’t against participatory journalism, but sometimes too much is too much.
  • Michael says the goal is to find likeminded individuals, not necessarily to have the front page story on NYTimes.
  • Om: Look at American Idol – not everyone can sing, but everyone loves to vote.
  • It’s more citizen editors than citizen journalists.
  • Om says, find me someone in this room who doesn’t have an agenda. Is there really objectivity?
  • Michael says he likes to gather a plurality of viewpoints.
  • Om says people who aspire to be editors online in the future are going to be aggregators. Trusting users to make the right call is the only way to go, that’s why Digg is doing better than the NYTimes.
  • The biggest thing that Om has learned is to be willing to apologize, you self-correct in real-time. Be flexible to listen to your readers, and just say sorry when you’re wrong.

2 thoughts on “Are Bloggers Journalists?

  1. Is blogging to journalism what VOIP is to telecommunications?

    Smart telcos are adding VOIP, so it’s obvious that smart journalism outlets will add blogging.

    Blogging no doubt gives journalism a kick up the back side – a scare of sorts, but blogging will likely not overcome journalism soon, merely because of personal taste – and this from a person that reads no newspapers (just news online) – which is why if news papers go out of fashion (or at least non-electronic (write-once) newspapers), it’s likely due to the readership dying out literally, unless the convenience of electronic news improves (i.e. electronic ink may be the catalyst).

  2. I think that’s a fair comparison, with VoIP.

    Even with electronic ink though, I am starting to think we won’t read newspapers on e-ink, at least not as we have them today. Instead, we’ll likely read some sort of aggregated, personalized news on e-ink.

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