When bloggers become journalists


I had never connected blogging and journalism before.  I never even saw the potential for connection.

After three months at a blogging internship, I began to see the overlap between the two.  Yes, journalists are paid to report news, but when bloggers freely take up this responsibility, the line between journalism and blogging is blurred.

This got me thinking — should bloggers be held to the same ethical standards as journalists?  Should bloggers, like journalists, avoid bashing others in order to minimize harm?

I was able to hear a few different perspectives on this issue over the weekend.  As a person who stutters, I was exploring a stuttering blog for some advice and encouragement.  To my surprise, a podcast was featured about ethics in blogging.

This podcast came in the wake of an uproar in the world of stuttering blogs.  A recent blog lashed out against Sally Reid, a hypnotherapist who wrongly suggested that stuttering is caused by an unhappy childhood event, and can be cured through hypnosis.  The blogger referred to Reid as a “crackpot” who is clueless about stuttering.

The podcasters questioned whether or not the blogger was right to call Reid a “crackpot.”  In journalism, they pointed out, this would be wrong — no questions asked.  The journalists would be accused of defaming Reid’s character and potentially damaging her career.

Does it make a difference that this was written in a blog post instead of a newspaper article?  The podcasters concluded (and I agree) that there shouldn’t be a difference.  

Bloggers should take a lesson from journalists in objectivity.  In addition to discussing the facts that go against Reid’s conclusion, the blogger could’ve spoken with Reid about the studies that back her assessment.  With both sides presented, readers could voice their opinions in the comments section.  This kind of post would be a conversation-starter instead of a personal attack.

Bloggers who wish to go beyond the “what I did today” kinds of posts and delve into the news realm must be cautious.  The public expects news to be objective, regardless of its source.

I wonder how many bloggers actually consider what they’re undertaking when they hit the “sign up” button on wordpress.com.


One response to “When bloggers become journalists

  1. Contnet: 4 Super. You are thinking like a journalist and I like that. I’d like to comment more fully — we could have a whole class on this topic — but I promised myself I would not dally on the grading. Here’s a site you might peek at:
    We’ll talk more about the ethics of blogging in the class on ethics. You can bring this up then if I forget.
    Links: 3 Nice. Almost too many. You need to keep the balance. The third and fourth graphs are almost overwhelming. Good that you stopped there.
    Grammar: 3 Good. You are a good writer. I want to make you great. Think about every word before you write it. Try to make every sentence matter. I know it’s hard, and it goes beyond the scope of this class, but you are ready. I want to teach you to make your prose zing.

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