In my own blog, I explained my own reasons for blogging. I also quoted Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, who explained that blogging is a journey, since a blogger can change their opinion after learning new things on the way. I also made the assertion that blogging is not automatically journalism and should not be regulated. Some would likely contest this and say blogging is journalism, because being public with your opinion opens you to scrutiny and regulation, and all that.
I would say bloggers can be journalists, but are not always. They are two different things. One blogger, Jolie O’Dell wrote a piece that became notorious in its days. In her article, she presents these distinguishing traits of journalism (as reprinted by Jenan Villanueva in Orange Magazine):
1. A journalist is trained in journalism.
2. A journalist’s work is not overly precious to him.
3. A journalist refrains from opinion in news stories.
4. A journalist attributes quotations and cites sources.
5. A journalist is obsessed with the Truth.
6. A journalist serves the people.
7. A journalist is a skeptic (and often a critic).
8. A journalist cares about form.
9. A journalist isn’t a spy or a snitch.
10. A journalist is passionate about journalism.
But there is a later explanation which seems more logical and easier to follow. David Coursey in Forbes describes a ruling in an American court by a Judge who described seven criteria to distinguish journalism from blogging. Here is what Judge Marco Hernandez says makes up journalism:
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1. Education in journalism.
2. Credentials or proof of affiliation with a recognized news entity
3. Proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest
4. Keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted
5. Mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources
6. Creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others
7. Contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story”
I simplify it this way: blogging is private expression. It is one’s opinion, or whatever they want to write. Journalism on the other hand is a profession, with an aspect of public service. It has rules. Once a blogger declares that their content is news, then they can come under journalistic principles and regulation. But a blogger just writing something like a diary that they make public is free to do so. People can challenge their opinions and point out possible errors. But no one can and should control bloggers, they are free to write and post what they want.
Some may say a “blog” or “weblog” by nature is a “journal” and thus should be placed under journalism; this is just a play on semantics. The term “web blog” in a way may even be inappropriate. It is actually a website, where anyone can post anything they want without needing to go through the complex coding needed for websites, such as HTML. Websites that are personal posts cannot be regulated, because that would be interpreted as suppression of freedom of expression.
Another misconception I’m irked with is that blogs are always for money. So when one blogs, the assumption is that he is always earning for it. This needs to be killed once and for all, and not all blogs earn money. Many just want to blog for the heck of it, and to express themselves.
But why insist that blogging is journalism? Some people may do so to ask for regulation… of others. The journalism profession is actually under some regulation. There is a press club, an association of newspapers, media agencies and the like, which also carries out some regulatory functions. Now some people are asking for the same to be set up for bloggers.
I disagree. As I said in my blog article, blogging is free. It is like a diary made public, it is under no one’s control but the blog owner’s. Regulation for blogging is thought police.
Perhaps bloggers who are calling for regulation of other bloggers are rent-seeking. They hate the competition, or hate people disagreeing with them. Thus, they want regulation that will involve shutting down blogs of others they oppose.
That’s wrong, isn’t it?
To those who say blogging should be regulated: no way. Let me echo GRP colleague Ben Kritz’s words: NO ONE tells me what to think or write.
Some would use the reason that opinion columnists in the newspapers were journalists before having an opinion column, and so people should become journalists before they should blog. My reasoning; no, blogs are not part of newspapers or other information agencies that needs careful checking, unless they say they are for news. Thus, bloggers are not automatically journalists. On the other hand, when bloggers claim to be journalists, they should meet the standards required for the job.
To shorten the explanations above, journalism is more a public service, where people have greater responsibility. Thus, the content has to be checked in credibility and validity. But a personal blog, or even a group blog like GRP, is where opinions flow freely. And since blogging is free, there is NO authority on blogging.
Again, why I blog: I want the world to have a piece of my mind. That certainly is not journalism.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.