I really enjoy reading personal Web logs, or blogs as they are universally known, and I take in several on regular basis.
They can be entertaining, informative, and educational.
But rarely can they be called journalism.
I’m not talking about blogs written by journalists at the behest of their news outlets, or those of subject matter experts or professional commentators long established as sources in certain fields – such as those in the Bangor Daily News.
Here, every blogger is required to apply formally for a position, pitch the idea for the blog, provide a first post, bio, and enter into a professional agreement. The latter includes a minimum frequency of publication posting, levels of compensation achievement, and adhering to a number of professional journalistic standards.
Instead, I’m referring to personal blogs that everyday citizens write on regular or irregular bases, importantly, with little rigor or process other than their own musings.
I examined this phenomenon in my weekly Portland Sun column, “Citizen blogs: A chasm of standards.”
None of this is in disparagement of the millions of amateur bloggers worldwide.
Anyone willing to write and exchange ideas and multimedia offerings on any subject under the sun is a welcome addition to the continuum of human information. Those who abuse it, though, shouldn’t be commended. Yet they, too, serve a purpose, by way of counterpoint, to demonstrate how not to do it.
Also, I’m not suggesting all credible blogs are necessarily journalistic: many are not meant to be. Some professional blogs, for example, are specifically designed with commercial gain or promotion in mind, as well as audience generation.
That’s all fine. But before throwing around the term “citizen journalist,” realize it’s a serious misnomer.
Without applying some degree of the accepted tenets of sourcing, accuracy, transparency, objectivity, fairness, and most importantly, verification, to use the word journalism, is quite frankly, a stretch.
Blogging is one of the great by products of the Digital Age, and as an outlet for expression it might be second to none.
But I don’t expect to be anointed a surgeon because I can put a Band-Aid on a kid’s scraped knee. Or an electrician after I change a few light bulbs.
Hopefully, absent of any argument from my column at the link above, or this post, those images are enough to drive home the point.