Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blogging Journalists

I've been thinking a lot recently about the whole concept of blogs by journalists. I'm not talking about personal blogs, but rather blogs hosted on news organizations' Web sites where their employees are encouraged to write blog posts.

It seems as though journalists blogging goes against all traditional teachings in journalism. Stay unbiased, don't show your opinion — ever. However, as virtually everything else in journalism is changing, it only makes sense that sharing your thoughts with readers may now be acceptable. Now that convergence journalism is in full swing and many journalists have a good grasp on technology, participating in social media outlets such as blogs is one more way to appeal to audiences and sell ads (or at least generate clicks and unique hits to eventually generate more ad revenue). The move to blogging in journalism does seem geared toward the age-old argument between advertising and journalism. You can't sell ads without good content to attract readers. (Or is it that you can't have a job creating content without the ad revenue?)

I recently moved from being a freelancer to an editorial assistant at my newspaper. Of course, in the first week, I was dispatched out to cover some breaking news. I was encouraged to create a blog post about the story before it ran in the next day's paper. The editorial staff explained that our bureau's blog was mainly to include things we wouldn't normally put in the story — personal opinions, thoughts, experiences, neat facts, etc.

I felt a little strange when I started writing my blog post, using a first-person narrative to tell about my adventure. In the end, it turned out to be what I feel is one of the most interesting little anecdotes I've written in a while, and I received a lot of good feedback about it. Maybe this whole journalist/blogger thing won't be too bad after all, but it is definitely going to feel weird for a little while.

What do you think about journalists blogging? Does it compromise the sense of objective anonymity a story's byline once had? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Do you blog as a journalist? Do you enjoy reading journalism blogs alone or in conjunction with related stories? And the big one — is blogging journalism? Please, leave some comments and start up a discussion about this topic!

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