This is an ongoing debate, one that’s been around since the Weblogs came about in the late 90’s. I was accused by a Twitter follower a few weeks ago of being too biased in my opinions and that I should stick to reporting instead of providing my opinion on different topics. While it came a bit out of left field, that comment made me think: why would the opinions that I post on my little blog provoke such strong reactions with some people? I’m only doing this as a hobby and I happen to write about things that people want to read about after all. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m definitely not a journalist or a reporter, nor do I pretend to be one…
But then I thought that I have tweeted and commented on some journalists or reporters’ timelines or columns in the past, about how they were using their media to push their own personal agenda against player “x” or coach “y”… to me, that was the difference between reporting, which occurs through a media, and blogging which is an opinion column. Was I wrong to think that way?
In order to get to the bottom of it, I decided to do some research on the topic and I found out that there are no clear guidelines, or at least no defined consensus to differentiate between a casual blogger on the web and a reporter or a journalist. Some definitions are quite broad, while others are a bit stricter. But which one is right, I wondered?
A blogger can be anyone, really. Anyone who wants to write their thoughts on any topic. As a Habs’ fan, it can be a 14 year old student or a 50 year old married man who loves to give his opinion on his favourite team, the players and the management group. Most times, in our surroundings, they don’t get paid, although some do. The money is however quite limited in most cases as blogging sites often take advantage of their writers by getting contents for free in order to pocket the advertising money.
A blogger is often more emotional about topics. Some bloggers will even go as far as attacking personalities which can results in some lawsuits for defamation. Bloggers will often use less factual information and more opinions instead. They are usually quite amateurish although some are, in my humble opinion, better than a few so-called professional journalists.
Mostly though, a blogger doesn’t publish under a media outlet, whether it’s electronic, print or radio. The blogger might (or might not) have their own blog or website.
The journalist (or reporter) is, more often than not, a trained professional in the media field of work. Most have gone to school and studied their craft. They have access to information and people that your mortal blogger might not and they are getting paid by a media outlet (or more) to provide content. They are paid employees or contractors for the most part, and they can be just as well on salary or paid by the piece (or presence).
The journalists often are published by those media and they are, for that reason, usually better known. We read them regularly, we hear them on the radio and we see them on television providing their “expertise”.
What constitutes a good journalist, in my opinion, is one who can draw the line between reporting the news at hand, and avoid as much as possible going into their personal opinion, particularly when it comes to emotions like firing a coach, trading a player… good journalists are like TSN’s Bob McKenzie, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Sportsnet and CBC’s Elliott Friedman and NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs.
A few examples of journalists who have crossed the line in the past by acting like bloggers while using their media outlet are The Gazette’s Stu Cowan, or CTV’s Brian Wilde. You can definitely add to that list Brendan Kelly, a Habs’ reporter wannabe for The Gazette whose real “expertise” is showbiz but confuses reporting with blogging.
I found this little gem who will help you make the difference between a blogger and a journalist, and it should also help you realise when a reporter crosses the line and uses its media outlet(s) while acting like… a blogger.
Courtesy of: https://www.essaytigers.com