So I’m here at the BlogHer 2006 conference in San Jose and am having an identity crisis.
Am I a Journalist or am I a blogger?
Candidly I think the question is stupid. But seeing as I’m spending two days ensconced in a Hyatt in San Jose (which in and of itself will likely merit at least one entry on this site due to the sheer horror of the experience), with several hundred people for whom these semantics matter deeply, I figure now is as good a time as any to unwrap this topic.
As long as I can remember, when asked, “What do you do?” My response has been, “I’m a journalist.” My reason is simple – I have extensive education, training and substantial hands-on experience working as a member of the media. My degree is from a journalism school. My name has appeared on actual mastheads of publications, on-line outlets and in the credits of radio and television programming.
But does any of this really matter?
I’ve been thinking about it, and have decided that while the semantics may be a waste of time the principle behind the discussion matters quite a bit.
The truth is that the democratization of media has enabled just about anyone to create and distribute information. This is good. Very good. But just because someone has a Web site and writes “articles” they should not be considered a journalist. And just because someone has a Web site where they post information, they shouldn’t be called a blogger.
It reminds me of geometry class. A square is always a rectangle. But a rectangle isn’t always a square. There are journalists who are bloggers, but not all bloggers are journalists.
What’s the difference? It’s about the method and practice behind the work. It’s not about the platform being used. In other words, it doesn’t matter how I’m posting and distributing the content. What matters is the intelligence (and I’m not talking about pure smarts here, I’m talking about understanding of what real journalism is) that goes into creating the information in the first place.
So what am I?