Are bloggers journalists?

A common theme through this blog is whether there are in fact any strong similarities between bloggers and journalists and therefore whether PR should treat them as one and the same. The startlingly-named Cyberbaguioboy dwells on this too, quoting a podcast:

Frankly, the danger I see now in everyone’s mad rush to become bloggers, and of companies, politicians and other groups to court the favor of bloggers, is that people may no longer see the need for objectivity…

At its core the argument runs that, whereas journalists are trained to recognise fact from opinion and within that, shades of meaning, threads of argument and prejudice, bloggers are not. Journalists will build an opinion based on fact, while bloggers may very easily build an opinion on opinion. This endless game of Chinese whispers becomes more acute as bloggers take what other bloggers say as fact.

Another aspect of this is culpability. Journalists can be hung drawn and quartered if they’re revealed as liars whereas bloggers are suitably anonymous not to be accountable to anyone – themselves, readers, editors or even ultimately shareholders.

I’m not saying all bloggers are idiots. I’m not saying all journalists are professionals. There are terrible journalists and great bloggers. But by and large I do wonder whether the overlap between them is really that significant, which begs the question: do we treat them in the same way?

Journalists know the territory and will necessarily ask the right questions. We need journalists to do this so that we can develop and adapt our messages. So perhaps with bloggers we should encourage them to ask questions more, indeed try and educate them to be better bloggers by bringing them closer to the ideal of unaccountable yet self-regulated journalism.

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