Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 24, 2011 9:48 PM

One Step Forward And Fifty Steps Back For Bloggers (And Society)

What year is this?

Instead of treating Bloggers as if they're not capable of reporting the news or having journalistic integrity, why not just elevate the journalists that we deem as "worthy" to a more professional status? This way, we can both control the media and - at the same time - let organizations decide who they should give more media access to based on an ID card. Does it sound ridiculous? Does it sound like the year 2000 all over again? Guess again. In the National Post article, Quebec seeks special status for select journalists, published today, it reads: "Quebec's Culture Minister, Christine St-Pierre, announced this week that she is pushing forward with a plan to create 'a new model of regulation of Quebec media.'... Key to the plan would be legislation establishing the 'status of professional journalist' in order to distinguish those committed to 'serving the public interest' from 'amateur bloggers.' It is proposed that state-recognized professional journalists would enjoy unspecified 'advantages or privileges' not available to the great unwashed... The government says it does not want to prevent anyone from practicing journalism. But it would create a separate class of journalists, who in exchange for their new privileges would have to respect certain criteria, yet to be defined. The new status would not be awarded directly by the state but by organizations representing journalists."

Well, isn't that special?

Do you like the way that journalists "serve the public interest"... and then there are "amateur Bloggers" (who don't)? Bloggers and journalists no longer have a symbiotic relationship. Even those days are over. Blogging is journalism and journalism includes Blogging. Pushing this further: journalists simply can't do their jobs without Bloggers anymore. Don't believe me? Look at both the sources used and where the news is initially culled from as proof. News breaks on Twitter in real-time (newsflash: Twitter is a micro-blogging platform) and Bloggers are often cited in both breaking news stories, digging deeper to find a truth and quoted as subject matter experts. Taking that even further, how often does the mainstream media simply report on a news item created by Bloggers? The answer: all of the time (from a plane crashing in the Hudson River to the Arab Spring to TMZ). I mean, what is Blogging anyways? It used to be an online journal that was powered by RSS, but the concept has evolved. Blogging is the ability to publish anything in text, images, audio and video instantly online to the world. Is The Huffington Post not considered to be a credible news outlet (their traffic trumps that of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal)?

What about the discourse?

Sometimes the news isn't fit to print. Here's the dirty little secret of the traditional publishing world: the pages of content are limited by how many pages of advertising are sold. The amount of content is not predicated on what's happened in the news or how much news was created. The news that's fit to print is predicated on advertising. Let's also not forget about the value that Blogging platforms provide in terms of the discourse in the comments (and while many complain of the quality of the comments, it's still a forum for discourse that does push a story further). Journalists and others often use the Blogging platforms to tell more stories or to expand on a story that was edited for size. It's not uncommon for traditional media outlets to publish the audio and/or video interviews that were used to create the news pieces. Those extras are frequently published on a Blog or Podcast platform.

Who am I?

Based on the description above, I'm an amateur Blogger and would not qualify for a status of professional journalist... or would I? I have a bi-weekly column in both the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun that frequently gets picked up by other newspaper outlets across North America and I have a regular column, Media Hacker, in The Huffington Post. So, I guess I might qualify... then again, all of my columns and traditional media contributions came because of my Blog, so I might not.

See what I'm saying here?

Instead of putting an effort on who is and who isn't a journalist, why not focus on where the audience is, how diverse the perspectives are and how to get the information more effectively disseminated to everyone? Especially when it sounds like taxpayers are footing the bill for this type of legislation (hard to believe, isn't it?). If we want to get really raw here...

Why don't we let the public decide what is credible media instead of letting those who are trying to control the message or those who are trying to hold on to their legacy instead of evolving?

By Mitch Joel