In every field of endeavour people are good, indifferent and bad at what they do so what is the difference between Blogger and Journalist? Not everybody can be a brilliant, highly paid writer for a national newspaper; but everybody could be if they have the motivation, talent and opportunity along with the ability to take those opportunities as and when they appear.
The internet and world wide web changed the modern literary landscape. Not so long ago getting published was far more difficult than it is today, there was only one medium, paper, presented in newspaper, magazine or book format. The publishing industry has adapted to changing social and political rules throughout history. In medieval times owners and writers who inspired the wrath and seething anger of powerful victims amongst their readership risked their lives for their art and political convictions. To survive and prosper as a writer in every age since the advent of the written word has been and remains a fickle and potentially deadly business. Your point of view may be truthful and your intentions honest but by bullet, gallows, fatwah, garrote, firing squad, sword, dagger or Machiavellian poison your future could be made uncertain by individuals who beg to differ with it by means other than discourse and rhetoric.
A relatively small but immensely influential group of publishers emerged to dominate the industry. Writers were selected for not only for their ability to write popular pieces but also to write them to the publishers form, style and content standards. Profit, survival and standards are key factors in a publishers viabilty and the careers of its writers and journalist. As an example the modern age reader of Playboy Magazine might be dissappointed if they bought a copy and found articles on the theory and practice of Marxism within its covers; such is the promise of publishing house and its journalists to reader. Then came radio and television, neither of which changed the basic nature of media publishing which continued according to the accepted norms with the addition of new and important live news channels.
Then came the internet.
All of a sudden the unwashed masses have the opportunity to record their lives and say whatever they wanted to say to the entire world on their very own web log and they did. Sensational! You can type in any word at random into one of the on line search engines a pull back a vast number of 'articles' who's quality varies from inane ranting drivel to informed debate.
Journalists and their editors don't have a problem with obscure bloggers who write on line about getting their nipples pierced for a laugh, they might wonder at their sanity, but it is not a threat. Things started warming up when bloggers began putting their views about the way the world looked to them in their web logs, journalists started to get uncomfortable, like any industry it is competitive and news is the journalists turf. It is standards, ethics and sheer talent that established publishers and their professional journalists would have you believe separate out true journalists from amateur bloggers. But they would say that wouldn't they?
Reading hundreds of political and technical blogs makes you reach the conclusion bloggers are journalists, though some have no aspirations to be journalists when they write, they are doing it for fun. Some people find they have the bug for writing, the talent and are a very good read. Perhaps they have no idea about journalistic standards or working to deadlines or drumming up ten 'stories' a day from the street; They just want to write about the things that concern them for anybody who happens to pass by on the web. Now if you are a Rupert Murdoch say employing hundreds of highly paid journalists to report on the day to day descent of American civilisation and Harry the Hatchet's blog on the same subject disputes its causes, and people are paying attention in large numbers to Harry the Hatchets views. Then you are starting to lose control, trust and profitability.
The era of the citizen journalist is here and this curmudgeonly, unrepentant horde provide a perspective and point of that often contradicts the mainstream press and adopts a far more critical analysis of subject matter than the journalist is allowed to. People have picked up on the uncritical nature of the mainstream press, their poor lapdog journalism and are turning to alternative sources of critical news. There are plenty around like "The Huffington Post" along with daily feeds from blogs like www.alternet.org and www.truthout.org or www.911truth.org. They have succeeded in blurring the line between the blogging and journalism if one ever existed. Perhaps there is no distinction just education, training, experience, the professional quality standards you choose to use, and of course the talent you bring to bear on the subject, and this wisdom applies to both blogger and journalist.
And finaly, more than one crazy story has emerged from the binary murk of the bloggosphere into the mainstream press, after all popular news sells advertising and the need for the filthy lucre has spiked many a dour but worthy story. Then there is a the question of style; the editor of the London Times might reasonably avoid giving a story on the bondage sisters from hell and their ride in an alien spaceship front page coverage; the blogger on the other hand can cover the crazy alien bondage story for the hell of it to their hearts content and nauseum, world without end, and who knows the editor of the Times may be grateful one day for the insight should the bondage sisters be linked to influential politicians as well.
To see what bloggers of the new media are capable of you need go no further than this Alternet story Muckraking AlterNet Coverage Exposes Wrongful Incarceration
Where were the journalists, the professionals, for 23 years? Where are they now?
Max Crean (c) 2010
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