You are on page 1of 7

Lohmiller 1 Maggie Lohmiller Professor Griffin Communications, Media and Society March 1, 2011 Influences of Blogging on Journalism The

line between blogging and journalism is becoming blurred in the eyes of many. Both output works of writing to a mass audience. Both rely on advertising revenue for financial support. All of the more affluent blogs have editors and publishers just like journalistic organizations. They both aim to develop followings based on the quality of their work, relevance, and immediacy. Yet, the two activities are indeed dissimilar in many ways. A blogger writes a personal or collaborative online portfolio of opinion based pieces on a variety of topics that are reflective in nature. Journalists are required to uphold an ethical code and present the unbiased truth to the best of their ability. It is only when the two occupations are confused that the integrity of the practice of journalism is threatened. Many people are turning to blogs as their primary news source. Readers often select blogs that generally align with their own opinions. What these news sources lack are details that support both sides of a story, and thus threaten the validity of news outlet. This is not to say that blogs are not necessarily credible sources of information, but they do not focus their postings on capitalizing on their follows specific opinion profiles. Bloggers may have the same credentials or moral code to write solely based on factual material. The key difference is that any reflective detail in a bloggers post changes the nature of the piece. A journalistic article is to be unbiased and focused on factual details. Journalists are held to heightened standards of responsibility to produce work that embodies balanced coverage of news in which bloggers are not subjected.

Lohmiller 2 Blogging was first introduced to the world in early 1994 when links.net, the first online journalism website, was created. However blogging did not gain public interest until 1999 when it became a free service and has increased popularity ever since. Blogs have captured the attention of readers throughout the world. There is a blog that addresses every interest and ideology from politics to eastern religions to baking. It is not a challenge for anyone to find a blog that engages their interests. Bloggers originally used the online forum for personal journaling. As blogs became a lucrative career, some blogs have become collaborative forums for groups of authors. This maximizes the output of postings when more authors are able to contribute. The use of blogs has evolved in several directions. Many people still use blogs as personal journals, but others use it as a venue for other topics including reporting upon world events, culture, economic trends, and general news topics. A blogger however does not simply report upon these things, but also includes their personal thoughts. A blog entry may be just as informative as a journalistic article that reports on the same topic, but when personal thoughts are added to the piece it becomes characteristically different. Bloggers have attempted the role of a journalist by reporting on news topics. Many bloggers format their posts and their sites are modeled after established news sources. A common practice amongst bloggers is disseminating news stories that were already investigated by news organizations on their blog. However the stories are revised by the blogger to include their personal thoughts. A study on the trends of what people choose when searching on Google search engine, blogs were more commonly selected over newspapers and magazines by a marginal percentage.

Lohmiller 3 If the trend continues along the same path, the number of blog selections should increase over newspapers and magazines. In 2003, Google built the technology to match advertisements with blog content. This was the first step in capitalizing upon the growing popularity of blogging. Currently there are numerous marketing firms that specialize in advertising on blog websites for clientele. Some companies that advertise online have strayed away from the traditional online news platforms to blogging sites for their advertising venues. Companies are able to find niche blogs to reach their target markets. Truth Laid Bear's Blogosphere Ecosystem is a website that ranks blogs according to the number of links received per day. This ranking is suggested to be a measurement of the popularity of the bloggers perspective. Advertising firms turn to websites such as this to monitor readership trends. One of the most popular blogs in America is PerezHilton.com. The blog was created by Mario Lavandeira in 2004 which focuses on celebrity gossip and scandal. Lavandeira developed the persona of Perez Hilton into a lucrative brand. According to Income Diary, Lavandeiras company earns 450,000 per month, chiefly on advertising. Advertisers are eager to follow blogging trends to reach the most consumers. Journalists have found certain advantages to blogs. Many media outlets turn to social media platforms for information and photographs that they can use for stories. Although blogs are not necessarily reliable sources of information, they are useful in fundamental research. For example, if a public figure posts content about their thoughts or activities then this gives a foundation for additional research to be performed. Some journalists also use photographs and

Lohmiller 4 quotes directly from blogs and social networking sites for publication since they are in public domain. Many consumers are turning to opinion based blogs as their main news source. Journalists strive to provide unbiased information, but generally bloggers do not have the same standards of quality and ethics as journalists. A journalists skills and commitment to keeping the public factually informed are often unmatched by the works that bloggers produce. Although many journalists are eager to separate themselves from the blogosphere, several newspapers decided to capitalize on the trend of blogging as a financially fruitful side venture. Newspapers such as the News Tribune in Tacoma, the Boston Globe, and the Providence Journal are joined by countless other newspapers across the world by having their own blogs associated with their online content. Most of the blogs are written by staff journalists. Some journalists have been hired full-time to write and maintain the newspaper blog. A blogs association with a newspaper has caused the standards and ethical code of these blogs to be questioned. Blogs are able to be written by anyone, about anything, with no stringent rules instituted. But when the reputation of a newspaper is attached, questions of credibility, liability, and subject matter are vital topics of conversation throughout the industry. The goal of newspapers is to achieve the same qualities that attract people to blogs, without jeopardizing their reliability as a news source. The worry of legal and ethical situations has caused many newspapers to call upon lawyers to clarify the boundaries for bloggers. Legal advisors and ethics councilors have formed committees to document stringent guidelines for writers since blogs are unchartered conventions for newspaper staff.

Lohmiller 5 A prime example of potential legal implications can be learned from former blogger Ben Domenech, who resigned from the Washington Post 72 hours after beginning his blog. As soon as his blog launched, accusations of plagiarism in his journalistic work were uncovered. The popularity of the blog heightened Domenechs fame to the point in which his wrongdoings were uncovered. This case caused the Washington Post and other news outlets to be cautious in who they select in representing their organization. Many journalists struggle to write blogs when appointed to that duty for a newspaper. Journalists are trained to be subjective and straightforward. Blogging requires the author to freely mix their opinions with the story line of a posting. This is an unnatural task for many reporters to accomplish, but is a necessary skill set, as blogging is being incorporated in many reporters job descriptions. Another challenge for newspaper bloggers is their content must match the image the paper wants to convey. Newspapers build their own brand around a certain ideology or political affiliation. That brand must intrinsically reflect the opinions and subject matter discussed in the blog. The trend has not been isolated to newspapers, but many newsrooms have a blog that coincide with their broadcasts. They may feature content that they report upon, but also include postings on fresh material. It also gives a platform for newscasters to provide additional detail on the stories that they may have not had time to present in the newsroom. This is also the venue in which broadcasters can express their opinion. One of the main distinctions about blogging is that it is solely an internet based activity. However this practice is beginning to change. The Printed Blog is a subscription based magazine that publishes articles from a team of bloggers. The definition of blogging is now being

Lohmiller 6 challenged since the medium in which they are published is now in a transition. This model seems contradictory to the trend of journalism moving away from print; however the success of the magazine is still being tested since it is a new business model. If blogging is moving to print, then it can be easily linked with opinion based newscasts found on cable news. Programs such as Nancy Grace, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and The Rachel Maddow Show, are all shows that report on world events that are based in their own opinions. If the medium in which blogging is no longer vital to its definition, it is easy to suggest that these programs are televised bloggers. This revelation further blurs the line between journalism and blogging. The advent of blogging has inspired a trend of moving away toward balanced reporting. This is contrary to the institution of fair, unbiased journalism. There is nothing inherently wrong with blogging. The fear that many journalists share is that the public opinion is being formed on a skewed platform. Many journalists are apprehensive that bloggers may prove to be competition. Most news outlets have made a move to include blogging in their business model. Although their jobs are fundamentally dissimilar, the budget for bloggers is shown to increase in years to come. The blending of balanced reporting and opinion driven reporting is evident in mainstream media. It is no longer easily identifiable to the public if their news sources are representing all sides of a story. Balanced media is navigating toward coloring news stories with popular opinions.

Lohmiller 7 Works Cited: Hull, By Dana. "Blogging Between the Lines | American Journalism Review." American Journalism Review. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4230>.

Thompson, Clive. "A Timeline of the History of Blogging -- New York Magazine." New York Magazine. 12 Feb. 2006. Web. 28 Nov. 2010. <http://nymag.com/news/media/15971/>.

Balwani, Samir. "The Difference Between Bloggers and Journalists | Social Media Today." Social Media News, Strategy, Tools, and Techniques | Social Media Today. 14 Apr. 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/189148>.

Dunlop, Michael. "Top Earning Blogs Make Money Online Blogging." Make Money Online Blogging - Your Guide To Online Income. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <http://www.incomediary.com/top-earning-blogs/>.

"Blogosphere Ecosystem." The Truth Laid Bear. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <http://truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php>.