student’s question: is blogging valid form of journalism?

Yesterday, a journalism student wrote to ask:

Do you feel blogging is a valid form of journalism?

I responded with: Journalism and blogging need not be seperate activities undertaken by separate people and I certainly don’t believe that journalism is something that can and should only be done by trained professionals.

I know journalists who blog and non-journalists who write and publish articles in newspapers and magazines. Trying to distinguish between who is a blogger and who is a journalism really isn’t very helpful or meaningful. That said, the vast majority of bloggers wouldn’t call themselves journalists, they’d say they are people who post some stuff online for friends and family to read. And yes, there are a lot of blogs about cute kittens, babies, and other topics that are of intense interest to an audience of 3 or 4 people.

Dan Gillmor was asked the same question, to which he responded:

An equivalent question would be: Is publishing on paper a valid form of journalism?

Blogging is simply a publishing method — a website.

Some blogs are clearly journalism. Most are not. The bloggers who are doing journalism are for the most part following standard journalistic principles such as thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and independence as well as transparency.

The student also asked for my opinion about Scoopt and similar websites. I said:

There are a number of companies trying to pposition themselves as middlemen between so called “citizen journalists” and mainstream media companies looking for their content. I think they will meet with limited success because members of the public who do find themselves at the centre of a news event, and who capture that moment, are unlikely to have ever heard of one of the middlemen propositions like Scoopt. Sure, people in the news and media organisations have heard of them, but ordinary people are much more likely to either contact media companies directly or post their stuff on flickr or youtube.

The last point, by the way, is something that Scoopt appears to be addressing with it’s recent open letter to flickr users encouraging them to tag their photos if they want Scoopt to see them.

The final question from the student was whether I felt everyone could be a reporter. Although I’ve never had any formal journalism training I’m frequently called upon to provide training for journalists, have published work in several major national newspapers and magazines, as well as writing on BBC websites and doing some radio reporting, and now find myself giving training to journalists, so this one was easy:

I don’t think it matters what we call it – everyone can tell a story and that, surely, is the point whether you call it journalism, reporting, storytelling, teaching, informing or blogging.


  1. I guess blogging could be considered as a space where a new form of journalism can be practised, mixing different media and formats. Two years ago, you could barely upload pictures, now you can add podcasts, videos, music. I think we should now ask ourselves how to use that space without killing the quality of our reports: what formats for a documentary should be used? How long should an article be?
    I still find very difficult to publish something that the anonymous reader who’ll drop by my blog will be happy to read. Sometimes I turn my mac on, and I feel like I’m going to talk about my dying cat. Maybe that also makes the specificity of the blog “publishing method” as you call it?

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