JournalismSocial Media

Are Bloggers Journalists?

PRWeek and PRNewswire recently teamed up on a study that found 52% of bloggers consider themselves journalists. The last time they did this study, roughly a third of bloggers felt this way. Why do more bloggers consider themselves journalists these days? Well for starters, it’s cool to be a journalist. That’s not the result of the study, that’s just my guess.

Regardless of your position on the topic, it’s clear that bloggers are gaining more and more influence. Audience size is growing for many, and collectively bloggers have a reach equal to or greater than traditional media across many categories. Bloggers and traditional outlets are both equipped with the ability to rapidly spread information across the Web at the same pace. But how credible is information from blogs?

This PRWeek-PRNewswire study found that 91% of bloggers use blogs and social networks “always” or “sometimes” for research (compared to 35% for newspapers). Said another way, most blogs rely on other bloggers – and anybody they find on social networks – as sources for their stories. This is part of the reason accurate and misinformation is spread so quickly online – many bloggers are copying each other.

Now I don’t want to jump to any conclusions here, but if bloggers are getting and sourcing all their information from other bloggers, how reliable is the information? How many degrees are from the source of the information in the post you’re reading?

Talking specifics, the study found that 64% of bloggers and 36% of online reporters use Twitter as a research tool for stories, but only 19% of newspaper reporters and 17% of print magazine reporters use this social medium as research. Does this signal a lack of sophistication and comfort with social media among traditional journalists, or do they know something bloggers don’t like the best sources aren’t found in a sea of tweets? It’s probably a mixture of both.

Even if half of the bloggers think they are journalists, that doesn’t make it so. If I think I’m particularly good-looking, it doesn’t make it so. I’ll answer the question for you – no, most bloggers are not journalists. Some journalists are bloggers and vice-versa. It comes down to the quality, accuracy, and authenticity of the content from my perspective.

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