Are bloggers journalists? It’s all about definitions

We live in a world of new technologies, where definitions as well as the ways we do things are constantly changing and evolving. It is a human characteristic to want to classify and explain everything around them, and search for barriers and frontiers to be able to understand the world around them, and as a consequence, define themselves as well. Therefore, the question asked today is a question just like any other, but which hides a few major issues, such as answers to the question “are tomatoes vegetables”?

The problem faced by the reader in this particular question is that the two terms it is made up of cannot be defined in the same way: a journalist is defined by his profession, namely that to give information in the name of the public, while a blogger is defined through the instrument which he uses to forward this information to an audience. If you keep to this framework, it becomes impossible to give an exhaustive answer to the question. A blogger could be anyone, a famous reporter, a mediocre journalist, a bored cleaning lady, and so on. If this is the case, how can one possibly decide whether a blogger is a journalist or not? It is a question of writing style, of credibility, or of the quality of the information given? It is all those factors put together and nothing at the same time. It cannot be denied that we read differently a post on a blog which talks about often very uninteresting details of a typical day in the life of Mr everybody in the same way we would read an editorial in The Guardian for instance.

However, if one is looking for real information on Cuba, which is classified at the 191st place worldwide in terms of the Freedom of the press in 2010, one can go to Generation Y, which is the blog of Yoani Sanchez, a Cuban dissident who is known worldwide. Yoani, as many other bloggers, has an excellent writing style. She is pursued just as many other traditional journalists and she risks her life everyday in her search of reality and truthful and uncensored information. Isn’t the search for the truth the first point that characterises a journalist? It is. Yoani therefore, is a true journalist. She has built her credibility day after day, article by article, just as any traditional journalist would have done. Bloggers meet with journalists during the big meetings which aim to define the panorama of the world’s press. Why therefore try to distinguish them?

Probably due to fear and uncertainties. On one side, the blogger who forwards information, the only one who, at this stage we do take into consideration in our analysis, who, lacking something, does therefore not insert himself in the category of the real journalists: the moral obligation to respect a set of rules as well as the possibility of having certain rights. But here as well, big steps are made, in our country for example, in November 2010, a Tribunal federal decision confirmed that comments “posted” by internet users who where not journalists are also protected by the right to protect your sources (Swissinfo.ch), the definition of a non journalist comes back yet again even if in this case, it is not to do with unnecessary information, lacking in rights and credibility, the bloggers information being relayed by a traditional media. It then becomes a question of mentality. Time is necessary in order that new definitions be accepted and understood. The initial question thereby becomes much less important.

Why do you care, dear blogger, to be called journalist if you sit down at the same table as them, you have the same rights, you write just as well as they do, you pass on information which has the same importance as theirs, and you are known by so many people?  Nothing must carry you away, or perhaps it really was your dream to be called journalist rather than to fit into the characteristics which are associated with the profession? If that is the case, don’t worry, it will come in time, and when you will have achieved it, perhaps you won’t even like it anymore!

 

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  1. #1 by G.M. on January 26, 2011 - 19:48

    I read about Yoani Sanchez too, and I think you made a very good example about blog&journalism. Well done!

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