I know a few bloggers who fancy themselves citizen journalists. It takes a lot of work to be a journalist. I often stop bleeds for my children, administer medication and homespun remedies, but still I am not a citizen medic. I’m just a Mom.
Bloggers have immense value as we offer commentary, opinion and enlightenment. What we don’t offer is balanced reporting, and we certainly don’t adhere to journalistic standards. I am not saying that bloggers don’t have value, or that bloggers don’t break stories, but even the best bloggers with the best of intentions are more akin to columnists than to reporters.
Blogs, like many newspapers, begin because the founder has an agenda. Agendas are not necessarily bad things. The agenda may be World Peace. The agenda certainly could be Get Free Things or Promote Myself. There are any number of reasons one may start a blog, inevitably they evolve or die. Like everyone else, my blog started in one place, and grew to another. I don’t know where I’m headed, but I know this is not journalism.
There are plenty of journalists who have blogs. The slow death of the daily newspaper has sent an incredible number of talented writers online. Almost without exception journalistic standards online are not being met. When is the last time you got a phone call from a fact checker? Before an assertion is made are there three independent sources to verify? There are two sides to every story, and quite often a third, fourth and fifth, does your story show those? If not, it’s a nice story, but it’s OP/ED, it’s not journalism.
Do not get me wrong, I love bloggers. I’m a blogger, I read you. I want to emulate you.
I’m just putting the call out for bloggers to please self identify as bloggers. Because when we call ourselves journalists, it’s like we’re the crappiest journalists you ever saw.
The Society of Professional Journalists has their ethics code posted online. It’s a good starting point.