Most bloggers, including us, don’t get paid to blog. So why do we do it? Oftentimes blogging is a means to share short form writing that does not conform to traditional writing norms — either academic or journalist. And the lack of limitation in format and length can be quite liberating.
But blogging also has its downsides, including the quandry of not being considered a “traditional journalist, though many blogs do contain news reporting and commentary. After all, in an era where journalism can take on multiple forms, including entertainment, editorials/ talking head pontification, and repeated wire stories, what *is* the difference between an independent blogger that conducts news gathering and reporting and a news site “writer”? What makes someone on The Huffington Post or TMZ a “real journalist”? versus a blogger? Or compared to the all of the talking heads on all of the cable “news” shows — from Rachel Maddow to Bill O’Reilly. I think that the only true distinction we can point to is that pro journalists, including freelancers, get paid — bloggers don’t.
Another problem bloggers have is that their work gets ripped off. Often. We have found our posts on other pages without our names and even sometimes without links back to the blog. We have a Creative Commons license on the blog, but some have viewed this as an opportunity to lift material wholesale. And we are far from the only ones who have had this happen. Sometimes public shaming works, as in one example of a “feminist” blog populated with plagiarized posts from a few months ago that has been shuttered (and completed removed from the internetz). Or this instance where a blogger went in person to the newspaper that “reused” his blog post without permission.
Blogging to the open internet doesn’t replace traditional journalism. (Neither does closed systems like Facebook or Google+, or open/private systems like Twitter). But the type of journalism that everyone agrees is journalism — investigative journalism — isn’t being supported in the way it used to in the glory days. And that is not the fault of bloggers.
So what will get bloggers and traditional journalists on the same page — including the idea that bloggers should be protected by the reporter’s privilege — the idea that journalists should not need to reveal confidential sources? A change in viewpoint that defines journalism by what is done — journalism, not who is doing it — journalists. But this would also require traditional journalism to recognize that much of mainstream media isn’t “real” journalism either.