are bloggers journalists?

Are bloggers journalists? Or more specifically, are blogging professors journalists?

I hadn’t given this question much thought until someone overheard me having a work conversation at Panera and thought I was an investigative journalist. (I wasn’t talking about journalism or even the news, I was explaining some mathematical modeling issues to a layperson).  My response to the journalist question was that I was a professor. Now I wonder if I should have described myself as a blogging professor.

I don’t think of myself as a journalist, even though a blog has the same ability to host new news stories as do newspapers. I realize that blogs mostly regurgitate news that has already been reported, but bloggers increasingly break new news stories. It’s great to be a part of that. I try to write about new news stories (e.g., posts about conferences) and stories that fall outside of regular journalism outlets (e.g., math models of zombies, vampire populations, and my morning cup of joe). Do bloggers deserve the same press protections as journalists? I suppose it depends on what kind of blogger you are. I hope I never need press protection.

A recent survey reports that 52% of bloggers consider themselves journalists. The number continues to grow because “it’s cool to be a journalist.” But it’s even cooler to be a professor of operations research. At least I think so. So I’ll continue to see myself as a professor who blogs, and I’ll consider blogging to be outreach and good nerdy fun rather than journalism.

4 responses to “are bloggers journalists?

  • prubin73

    Bloggers may or may not be reporters (I’m definitely not). For a blogger to be considered a journalist, I think they have to conform to the professional standards of journalism. Do they have independent verification of facts? (I think the criterion I’ve heard quoted most often is two credible sources per fact, but I won’t swear that’s a standard as taught in a journalism school.) Do they attempt to be neutral in their reporting? (Bloggers? Neutral??) Do they refrain from injecting themselves into the story? (Reporters are not supposed to make news.)

    And you’re correct: being a professor of O.R. is way cooler. Just ask any professor of O.R.

  • Peter

    I feel like this is the wrong question (but I’m not a native speaker, so please correct me). “Blog” is a type of medium (usually written), while “journalism” is a type of practice (usually employing some kind of medium like radio, newspaper, blog).

    So asked about my blog I would say that besides being a mathematician, I am also a writer, using a blog as my preferred medium; my topics are mostly scientific/mathematical.

    Does that make sense?

  • Laura McLay

    Thanks Paul and Peter! Your comments helped me to confirm that I am not a journalist. Most technical bloggers I know are not journalists, either. But that’s a good thing, since I like it when they inject themselves into a story.

  • Francisco Marco-Serrano

    Maybe this could merge both roles: ‘post, don’t publish’; check at how an EU funded research is analysing how profitable would be for society to change the way academics do (and disseminate) their research. 😉

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