Tell It Like It Is

Is blogging journalism? They seem to think so at the Buffalo News. The News runs, a web portal as well as their own site for the newspaper, They also run a public free blogging site called Your Hub as well as a photo sharing site called spotted. Both of the latter are pre-packaged “solutions” that are simply customized for their use, mostly by adding the word “Buffalo.”

Anyone can create an account at these places and write about whatever floats your boat. Does that make you a journalist? Is someone with no training in journalism suddenly empowered by the interwebs by filling in an online application form?

In fairness, I must disclose that I have an account both at Your Hub and Spotted. I’ve posted a couple of times to Your Hub and put quite a few photos on the Spotted pages, both as a personal “MySpotted” user and as a “WeSpotted” “intern.”

That still doesn’t make me a journalist or a photographer. Well, not a good one, anyway.

I have some reservations about doing too good a job at either. There are people trying to make a living by working as Journalists. Should I be competing with them for the eyes of the public? Do I even think what I write even is seen by more than a handful of people? Is the paper cheating professional journalists by doing this? Or does it even matter? Is there so much news to cover that they need our help and just send the pros to the big stories? Or is there a line between the citizen journalism side of things and the professional journalists?

Or is this just the way the News feels the pulse of the public? If there is a lot of interest in something on Your Hub, do they watch it for possible “professional journalistic” coverage?

Too many questions and I don’t know the answers. I do know that the print papers everywhere are feeling the squeeze from the internet. Advertising, especially classified ads, have been hurt dramatically by things like job-finding sites and Craig’s List. Is this their way to cope with that, or even a desperate bid for survival? More questions.

But I don’t feel what I do here, or on Your Hub is really journalism. I’m not held to the same standards the a news writer is. I don’t have to check my facts and sources. I can simply write my opinion. Or fiction. And you don’t pay to read this, so there is no accountability to the reader. I’m running my own site here, so there isn’t even someone to go to if you want to go over my head. You can’t ask the webmaster to pull a post I wrote, because I are the webmaster.

So I only answer to myself and at least my standards are what they are. I don’t publish lies (knowingly) I do state opinion, but only my own. I think it’s pretty clear that almost ALL of what I write is my opinion and while it may be based in fact, it’s my view of the facts, and therefore, you are free to disagree. Oh, and I try to spell things good. 🙂 Grammar is another story.

And I certainly don’t hold myself in the same league as the panelists at the Tell It Like It Is conference.

So, is this journalism? I don’t think so. At least not any more than the Letters to the Editor page is. It is what it is and no more. A Blog is a Blog. Just a journal that happens to be posted online. Some are very good and some of them like to think they are journalists and some of them are very good at it. If they want to blog like a journalist, that’s fine. But that doesn’t really make them one. If a Journalist wrote their column by the same rules and standards as a Blogger, they could be out of a job, so it doesn’t work both ways and they aren’t the same thing.