Hello once again. Today, we’ve been posed with a couple scenarios in order to determine whether or not a blogger is remotely similar to a journalist; and when I say anyone, I mean any blogger at all – whether it be myself, yourself, a twelve-year-old cat lover in Eastern New York… you get the idea. Are bloggers and journalists the same? At a glance, I would say no. But let’s run through our scenarios before we get to the boring stuff, shall we?
A reporter for a major newspaper reports – using anonymous sources – on a falsified government document. When the government agency attempts to force him to reveal his source, he refuses and is protected by a “shield law” which states that he does not have to reveal his sources. Meanwhile, a blogger breaks the exact same story at the exact same time. Should he receive the same protection? Would your answer change if you found out the blogger had been running a news and politics blog for years? What if she’d never posted a news story before but stumbled onto this one?
Alright; this one isn’t too bad. According to our Constitution under Amendment 1, all citizens are allowed a freedom of speech. Because of this, it’s safe to believe that just because a story is being reported doesn’t mean its origin has to be explained. Just try finding the guy who wrote the Bible.
In this case, however, we’re dealing with what I assume can be called a ‘matter of national security’ involving two individuals who somehow get the same scoop despite the differences in their fields of expertise and ability to obtain information. Think about it: a journalist is typically active in interviewing witnesses, gathering police reports, detailing the facts and sprinkling as little personal opinion on their creation as possible. A blogger, meanwhile, typically writes from either personal experience or is inspired by journalistic posts online, reports on the news, et cetera. Unless the blogger is also an investigative journalist in disguise, I doubt they received the same story as the other guy.
Nevertheless, the details are not important. Should the blogger receive the same protection the journalist receives? I believe so, yes. To protect one person who writes a story over another who writes the same story, but later claim that the protected one is doing things lawfully is sort of like saying a certain type of couple can marry while the another cannot simply because the witnesses of their wedding aren’t sober or intelligent enough to qualify. It doesn’t matter how political the blog is or isn’t, whether it’s the first post or the five-thousandth; bloggers still deserve protection just the same as journalists. Moving on.
A blogger applies to receive press credentials so he can get into a political event. He is denied, because he’s “not a journalist,” even though many reporters are allowed in who have fewer readers than the blogger. Is that fair? Would it matter if, instead of news bloggers and newspaper reporters the same situation arose at a fashion show with a writer for a fashion magazine and a fashion blogger?
I’m going to just make this answer short and sweet. Sometimes life isn’t fair. That’s simply how it is. Many companies and organizations don’t look at experience if the credentials are missing. Just try getting a job as a robotic engineer without a college degree by saying you’ve spent twelve years of your life building robots in your parents’ basement. Chances are, you’re not going to be given access to NASA’s robotics department; you’ll be told to bugger off and come back if you have a degree. The same applies to any field which values credentials over experience or the enormity of your fan base. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
To sum it all up, I would dare to reckon that bloggers are not journalists based solely on: the means in which they obtain information, the laws which they are (or are not) protected by, and the credibility or credentials they do or don’t possess. Who knows: perhaps one day we’ll appreciate the intellectual capabilities of bloggers; until then, we’ll lie in wait for our time to shine in the limelight like all those fancy journalists. Until then, happy blogging.