Blogger? Journalist? Or both?

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Bogging versus journalism will forever be an ongoing debate. Undoubtedly there are distinctions between blogging and journalism which may spark a discussion however, is there a sharp distinction between the two disciplines? I think the two have merged together over time. Using a popular site known as fashionbombdaily.com, I have reason to believe it is both a blog and journalist site that provides readers with what they want. What started out as fashionbomb.blogspot.com solely about shopping grew into content about celebrities, particularly in the event that publisher and founder Claire Sulmers was asked where songstress Ciara received her dress she was wearing. With a fully productive staff the site is a space to showcase all things celebrity and fashion using multiple social media sites that include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest to network and inform celebrities when they’re being talked about and in turn, sometimes celebrities will retweet a link to their followers which means their fans will come to the the site for the latest scoop. The site is very thorough and consistent on the news they provide for their readers. At the same time they also encourage their readers to help in providing information that may be difficult to retrieve at times. Almost 10 years in the blogosphere the site’s credibility has never been waivered or questioned making it one of the top sites for daily insight in the celebrity world.

Blogging vs. Journalism

 

¬†“Is anyone with a blog a journalist? Is anyone with a camera a photographer? What happens to journalism when every reader can also be a writer, editor, and producer? These are but some of the questions long debated in both the blogosphere and in journalism, and still no clear concensus has emerged.”¬†-Brian Carroll

Carroll poses a great question for his readers to ponder upon and there are multiple interpretations that can be made to answer without a clear-cut “answer”, making it right nor wrong. My understanding of journalism is the gathering, processing, and circulation of news, and information that correlates to news to an audience. Unlike journalism, I believe blogging originally, began as a medium to express oneself through thoughts. Essentially, it began through writing (via journals/diaries) but as technological advancements continued to make strides in society, blogging became available to take place digitally and publicly on the internet. Both mechanisms of writing and producing content for an audience is writing out loud so to speak but the moral compass is entirely different.

For bloggers, the deadline for content is always instant. It entails more free-will, more accident-prone, more alive, and less formal. ¬†Journalism consists of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability which is undoubtedly easier said than done. In order to provide newsworthy content, these attributions must be considered first. Therefore, bloggers who consider themselves journalists cannot sit on their computers all day but they have to go out and interview sources, investigate, and then explain what they’ve understood from all the information gathered. I digress that opinion is not journalism.

The question of whether anyone with a blog is a journalist I think, has been blurred by time to an extent. Blogging has broadened the digital space of ideas by allowing a multiplicity of individuals’ voices to enter discourse communities: blogging and journalism are two very distinct entities. Much of the blogging world has little interest in what you can call proper journalism. A large proportion of the blogosphere is still dominated by opinion-based writing.

People can argue that journalists claim to be the only useful writers found because people want the hard facts but what people also want is prospective along with the facts. Blogging may well be a step along the road to becoming a journalist. By choosing to write on things that bloggers are passionate about such as beauty, fashion, ¬†or food. If a blog gets a ton of hits with thousands of followers, it is without a doubt taken seriously. For instance, one of the biggest fashion blogs out there is¬†Fashionbombdaily.com, where viewers can find the latest on multicultural fashion with nearly 2.4 million visitors. Blogging can be said to equal to journalism with the addition of opinion. Because of the quality of the site’s coverage, their following continues to strengthen thereby encouraging readers to look to the site for¬†takes on fashion news and stories, along with magazine coverage, fashion show reviews, trends, wardrobe advice, celebrity looks for less, and tips on how to break into the industry from the best in the business. The woman behind the site, Claire Sulmers clearly tracks down sources, does investigative reporting, and presents the facts clearly and fairly, she is a journalist with an outstanding blog. Like Josh Micah Marshall’s “The Telling Points Memo”, Fashion Bomb Daily paved the way for “blogging as journalism, or at least established that blogging and the mission of journalism are not necessarily at odds or in any way mutually exclusive” (Carroll 175).

The Trend of Digital Journalism

When I think of a journalist, I think of a person who stops at nothing to acquire as much information as possible to tell the facts about a story, without falsified information. When reading Photojournalism in the Age of New Media by Jared Keller, what he said that stood out to me was, ¬†“a whole universe of photojournalists, ¬†both amateur and professional, is made available to the public through social networks. ” Without social media, what would become of journalism itself today?

Journalism has sure made its advancements over the years but not without questioning its validity. Because anyone is allowed to report news coverage on their social accounts, doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting at the truth but maybe getting at the likes, retweets, and ultimately gaining an increasing base of followers. Without social media, ¬†society wouldn’t be able to keep up with live reports, we’d still be waiting on the 6 o’clock news. As Keller states, ¬†“social media, like so many other tools, isn’t inherently good or bad; it simply needs to be deployed in the appropriate manner to accurately tell a story. ” I completely agree with him in that sometimes, society loses sight of the truth behind a story in that people seek to carry on “the buzz” of a story long enough until it fizzles out and the next one comes along.

The speed and immediacy to share content on social media is great, ¬†but how great is it if you put into question accuracy over time, the source that put it out there, ¬†and video/picture content? As fast as it is to put content out on social media is as fast as falsifying the content or manipulating it to heighten the reaction of folks that could possibly feed into it. I’ll admit I get most of my news coverage/information from Facebook however, I tend not to immediately believe what I see and wait to see it on television and that’s just me. But others are very quick to read and spread the word without blinking an eye and I think that’s the downside to all this. I think social media is such a fad that’ll never go away that at this day and age, ¬†anyone is considered a journalist or photojournalist.

A picture is worth a thousand words but what does it say when it’s being misread? ¬†As Keller mentioned before, we have both amateur and professional photojournalists through social media and I believe Instagram is the number one social network for withholding them. You don’t need to own a Nixon or Sony professional camera because a simple camera phone, ¬†much like an iPhone can do the exact same job. Keller points out in saying in his article that, ¬†“new media is very significant in immediacy, but not totally in long term. It doesn’t matter if there are a thousand cameras, its the storytelling that’s important. A photojournalist with an artistic vision that transcends superficial coverage. It’s a different media space.” That media space is known as Instagram. Not that I’m saying everyone who owns an account is superficial but it isn’t difficult to find yourself putting up a front for your followers about how you live your life through pictures posted and 15 second videos. ¬†This is precisely why I don’t have one. If anyone wanted to know who I am they can speak to me directly instead of formulating their own ideas through pictures and videos. People like to post #foodart, ¬†#Godart, ¬†and #ootd (none other than meaning outfit of the day) but how much thought goes into those posts other than how many likes you’ll get for it and how many followers will follow you on that particular day. ¬†It’s all superficial storytelling really. ¬†But who am I to judge? Social media is an ever growing movement and at this rate, ¬†journalism can only get better or worse.

The Crisis of New Media Reporting.

In recent years ¬†there has been a move from print based journalism to digital journalism causing may characteristics of the art of ¬†journalism to change. As in many other technological advancements there is always a loss, in this case it seems as though we are fundamentally replacing traditional aspects such as, seeking the truth, reporting that truth by way of verification and diligence. Not to forget the¬†ethical and aesthetic responsibility to uphold. In this new era of everyone having the affordance to actively participate in news it becomes a constraint due to the fact that ‘citizen journalist’ create facts from fiction and spread it. These journalist do not do their due diligence and properly investigate but build a narrative built on pure speculation which I believe goes against everything journalism stands for.

In pure curiosity I did some research on¬†what are the guidelines or oaths journalist and reporters adhere to . To my surprise I came across¬†numerous websites that backs my initial thought that journalism has the duty to seek the truth by means of honesty and integrity. According to,¬†The Sedona Observer, a website that thoroughly explains the code of ethics of journalism, it states that ¬†“…journalism becomes a sacred trust in which the public accepts information as the truth and holds journalists responsible for upholding it.” Now with that said, I find it hard to believe that any of us who report on any media site takes into consideration the code of ethics that comes with reporting. I think the fact is many people only hold one obligation and that is to themselves. This media induced obligation that we must report our opinions, our feelings, our interpretation, and somewhere along the way we forgot that we actually have to report the truth.

In, “Photojournalism in the Age of New Media”, an article by Jared Keller, I came across an ¬†interesting sentence, it read, “while a single snapshot may tell a thousand-word story the trick is to get the story right.” Bloggers, tweeters, Facebookers, and all other social media users drag from what they see. They pull together stories and create a new meaning under false pretenses. Now, do not¬†get me wrong news being reported on a social media site is whats wrong but what comes as a result of it. People pick and choose on what to report, they misinterpret, and they make false allegations. Take for instance, the Reddit and the Boston Marathon bombing incident that was discussed in Brian Carroll’s, “Writing and Editing for Digital Media”. Sunil Tripathi was falsely identified as the Boston bomber after his image was placed alongside the actual bomber. The initial accusation on Reddit then spread to Twitter where the story transformed into a user claimed to have gotten the information from a police scanner. After which the tweet became viral. Tripathi was in fact not the bomber but had his character defamed due to hear say and the lack of verification of information and sources. People were so invested emotionally in the horror of the incident they forgot to investigate the truth from credible sources such as the Boston police.

Although, new media users have gotten a bad rep for performing acts of citizens journalism due to their messy and reprehensible acts of reporting sites such as Watchdog City, offers a platform which offers regular people who do feel the obligation to report on matters of injustice and social issues a platform to do so in a manner that does respect the dying guidelines of journalism. On Watchdog City, independent journalist register an account where they present their work to be evaluated by the sites credibility rating system and must follow a code of ethics as stated by the site. As so much damage has been done by reporting in a new media age a site such as this combines the new of the digital media and the old of the responsible to the public in a way that produces quality work based on diligence, credibility, and verification. We must remember that our words add to a global story and what we report is not just for our own personal debriefing but for the world to feed off of. It is our responsibility to report the truth even if we do not agree with it.