What’s the difference between a blogger and a journalist?
This question has cropped up a lot recently, particularly with the recent case of Crystal Cox, investigative blogger, who was sued $2.5 million for libel because she wasn’t protected by the same defence that journalists receive when taken to court.
It’s a question I’ve been thinking about too after my recent trip to Sweden where both bloggers and journalists attended the press trip together.
I’m blogging and also studying journalism so I feel as though I have one foot in both industries. At first I hadn’t realised that there was such a debatable divide between the two professions but as print publications plunge into the world of social media, blogging and multimedia interactivity it seems as though they’re coming together and we’re soon going to collide in the middle.
Bloggers are keen to highlight that what we do is actually very similar to journalists but journalists are not so keen for the association.
During my journalism course we barely even talk about blogging, despite the fact that it is the best way for a trainee journo to get their name out there. Our tutors know very little about blogging and it’s their ‘blogging has nothing to do with journalism’ attitude which is leaving many print publications stuck in the dark ages.
I’m not suggesting that blogging and journalism are the same because they really aren’t. But as the lines between online and print journalist merge and print slowly fades away, surely we should be working together and learning from one another to make a stronger industry of multimedia professionals?
Traditional journalists can learn alot about social media and immediacy and interactivity that bloggers can provide, while bloggers also have a lot to learn from journalists.
Journalists (on the most part) are well respected due to the research involved in their work and the high standards each article has to pass. I know that blogging isn’t about searching through history books to get an old reference or quote but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do our homework and make sure our work is to a high standard.
So how did the bloggers and journalists mix during my trip to Sweden?
Some people thought it was strange that both journos and bloggers were bundled together on the same trip. It was almost suggested that we should be in competition with each other but most people thought it was brilliant and it was a sign that bloggers and journalists are slowly coming together.
I was really excited to be around professionals (whether they were journalists or bloggers I didn’t care) and have the chance to pick their brains and get some tips – so a massive thanks to Abi, Kash, Chris and who really helped me out and gave me some great advice.
The one journalist on the trip was very ‘old-school’ journalism. She didn’t own a mobile phone and carried nothing but a small notepad and a pen. She was both fascinated and horrified in equal measure by our obsession with Twitter and Facebook but she was intrigued to see how it was done.
It was great to have her on the trip, she reminded me that sometimes you need to put down your camera and your phone and just experience a place. Grab a notepad and pen and write stuff down in the old fashioned way and sometimes that’s when you find the best story.
Many people are intimidated by gadgets and gismos but a friendly smile and a trusty moleskin will get you a long way.
What other ways do you think bloggers and journos can learn from each other?