An interesting conversation is taking place over at Blue Mass Group
: are bloggers journalists and are journalists lazy and careless? My quick thoughts -- no and sometimes.
First things first. Journalists can be bloggers, but bloggers are not journalists. Simplest reason? Journalists, despite what you might have heard from the "fairandbalanced" folks at Fox, really do try to be objective and present both sides of an issue. Sometimes they get used by sources exploiting that bias
, but journalists are scribes, reporters on the first draft of history.
Some journalists -- under appropriate labels or on designated pages -- do write analysis and opinion. But being trained as a journalist and having spent more than a decade working a daily beat, I can tell you that is not the root task of most reporters.
Are some journalists lazy and careless? Yes. As with every job, you can get cozy and comfortable and come to expect handouts instead of working for them. Or you can be a slave to your organization's overall philosophy (yes there are liberal publications -- as well as conservative ones).
At the other extreme, you can get careless in the crush of deadline and accept things as "facts" because you don't have the time to check it out.
Bloggers, on the other hand, traffic in opinion. Oh, we may "break" information here and there but for the most part we are pundits, prognosticators and thumb suckers. I try to link to stories that back up or verify my opinions, but I am no longer a journalist and make no claim to be. In fact, I feel liberated by blogging and and sharing the opinions I always kept out of my daily reporting work.
Now back to Davis Kravitz's lament. Without having watched the segment, I can see one serious flaw in his argument: John Carroll attributed everything about paid bloggers and MyDD to The New York Times.
If Carroll is guilty of anything -- and I don't think he is -- it would be he did not check out the Times' original reporting.
If Kravitz has a beef, it's with the Times. And I don't think he does have a beef. Rather he is learning the uncomfortable fact of life when a person shifts from opinion giver to opinion leader. It's something I experienced when shifting from journalism to PR and I know first hand how unpleasant it is to see something in print or on TV that's not quite what you meant to say.
Journalism should be added to the lineup of things you should not see being made -- along with sausage and the law. Things do get sliced and diced, as some BMG commenters note.
But for people who traffic in opinion -- as do the guys at BMG -- it rings a little hollow to talk about not liking how someone slices and dices you in what is NOT a news story in the classic sense but a set-up piece to lead in to an opinionated discussion on a topic. All sort of cliches come to mind, such as one about dishing things out.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy blogging as much, if not more, than reporting and would be thrilled have to take a little heat because that means people are reading. And this is not a rap at BMG, which has become a daily stop for me (and whose Blog Roll I would love to join!).
What this is really all about is that if bloggers want to be "players" in the political world, we better learn to develop a thicker skin. Although a thin skin doesn't seem to have hampered Tom Menino. :-)