Are bloggers journalists?

Neuchâtel, a more and more populated city

Every year, December doesn’t only rhyme with Christmas, but also with demography. It’s in fact at the end of this month that the FSO will reveal the 2011 Swiss demography evolution. I’m writing about it because since 2003 the commune of Neuchâtel is witnessing a population renewal. Even if we talk here of a 4%- growth in less than ten years, this percentage represent no less than 1500 inhabitants for our own commune. Diverse sectors will have to adapt to this continual growth.

The public transport: a game ahead

For the Neuchâtel public transport (TN), the city bus network is most affected by this population’s augmentation. “We noticed a large and progressive increase of passengers”, explain Mrs Jeanne Huessli, in charge of the communication department of this society. “By summer 2012, ten news buses will be put into circulation on the biggest lines to absorb the users’ increasing flux.” Cost of this operation: almost 15 million CHF including the bus driver’s wage. “That might seem a lot, but this investment should be profitable until 2017.”

Needless to say, this society didn’t wait the 2011 FSO report to take the bull by the horns and react consequently. Which proves nothing is impossible. So the Bienne – Lausanne train passengers might hope the SBB will take example on the Neuchâtel public transport and put an end to passengers’ suffering during rush hours.

 

After reading this article I wrote, you’re probably asking yourself what is the link with our initial question: “are bloggers journalists?” In reality, everything! In order to address the question, I needed initially to act as a blogger. So I wrote an article on a theme any ordinary blogger would be interested in.

But the problem is…my article is false. Mrs Huessli doesn’t exist and- I invented all of what she said. This is the key challenge of a blog post. One is never sure what is true and what is wrong. Of course with my article it was enough to search the name Jeanne Huessli on Google to discover the hoax. But what if I used the real name of the communication department person? It would have been more difficult to find the truth without a phone call to the TN.

What I wanted to prove is that nothing prevents someone from posting a lie. We always need to keep that in mind. Of course what I wrote is under no circumstances journalism.

But what is journalism? Answering this question will allow us to determine if yes or no bloggers are part of it. A journalist produces information. Verified and tallied information which will be transmitted to the lector. To be a journalist isn’t “write to write”, but “write to inform”, to explain, to comment or analyse. A journalist must follow a ethical charter, sign his article with his real name and work under the supervision of his editor. Of course these rules might be breached of and sometimes journalists might bend the rules and values of their job, but in absolute terms, journalism can’t be defined with such cases.

On the other hand, what’s a blogger? Blogs – contrary to a newsroom – are open to everybody. Bloggers often publish under a pseudonym – there’s no way to find the real source – and no ethical rules or moderator frames what is published. It doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a blogger to publish something relevant or completely journalistic. But there’s no way to control.

A lot of journalists and experts have blogs and publish relevant information about what they see with a freer style like for example Jean-Dominique Merchet, David Medioni or the Online Journalism Blog. The blog can be an extension of a newspaper like the New York Times blog Lens on which press photography are published. We have also blog for “citizen journalist” like the Bondy Blog inspired by OhmyNews – a Korean website where “every citizen is a reporter”. But the blog is also a place where somebody is able to express himself, his opinion, and his moods without any other desire than write about his feelings.

Finally “Are bloggers journalists?” is a wrong question. Because bloggers are bloggers and journalists are journalists. Like the chameleon changed his colour according to his environment, the blogger can, just for the time of a post, be a journalist, a humourist, a politician, a cook or anything else. They are no rules and no generalizations to be made. For the same reason we can’t pretend that strangers are criminals, we can’t affirm that bloggers are journalists.

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