Journalist or Blogger

There is a long discussion within the media sphere itself if bloggers should be treated as journalists – the concepts are gradually merging.

At first it is necessary to grasp what are the differences between the two. At a fundamental level, the medium defines a key distinction: bloggers are on the Internet only, whereas journalists are not defined by any particular medium, whether digital or traditional.

Another important fact that separates blogging from journalism is the content. Often times bloggers offer analytics or an opinion on current events based on their knowledge and expertise.  Journalists, otherwise,  collect information from various sources and perform as a mediator between the opinions, nevertheless, there are some journalists that do opinion-writing.

However, this blogging freedom can trigger changes within the oppressive regimes and unfree mass media. When the media is pro-governmental and political opposition is absent the only voice that can reach the public is the voice of bloggers.

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Bloggers are usually individuals that are not bounded by any concrete policies on the type of information that they can give to the public or visual content as pictures of corpses or naked people. Certainly it gives freedom and broadens the limits of what can appear online without facing problems, however, those limits depend on subjective perception. Journalists, on the other hand, have certain style guides, policies, and regulations that protect the reader from unchecked information. However, big institutions can sometimes become an obstacle for a good reporting.

A lot depends on the expertise of a blogger but often they don’t know how to deal with some sensitive information like names and pictures of the victims of rape, underaged criminals, secret information that leaked out, or anonymous sources.

This can lead to serious problems not only for a blogger but for the people whose names were touched upon in the entries. Or if the information presented was critical to the government – officials can demand to reveal the source. In most of the Western countries were introduced “shield laws” that protect journalists from criminal prosecution for not disclosing the source. For now the law is extended only to professional and student  journalists and freelancers. However, Jason Streak, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity  in an interview to  the Forbes magazine, argues that it should be also extended to bloggers and web-based publications.

Another legal consequence that “new journalists” can face within the frames of authoritarian regime is governmental control. In Russia and some of the CIS countries in summer of 2014 passed a law according to which any person who has at least 3,000 visitors per day has to register, disclose personal information and submit to the same regulations as mass media.

It is important to know the distinction and specifics between a journalist and a blogger. However, there is no answer, which one is better – the world is complex. There a good bloggers, bad journalists and vice versa.

 

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Photo credits: Derek Σωκράτης Finch and Chung Ho Leung

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