Friday, March 04, 2005

Are bloggers journalists?

A good newspaper is never nearly good enough but a lousy newspaper is a joy forever.
Garrison Keillor, author

The initial courtroom victory that Apple won against bloggers trying to protect their sources who supplied insider information about new products (which we pointed out to BoingBoing does not mean the end of bloggers as journalists.

I don’t see this case as having anything to do with journalism or bloggers as journalists. This case is focused on company secrets being stolen and published. It is more like thievery with lawyers looking for publicity trying to claim protection under the First Amendment.

A blog is a relatively new medium to convey information. As many of you already know, "blog" is a relatively new word formed through the age-old method of combining two already-existing words; in this case, web and log (it is also seen as an abbreviated form of the term weblog).

Blogs that report news and whose contributors work as reporters should be entitled to the protections and risks that journalists face, such as libel lawsuits and First Amendment rights (which are fading fast under the Bush administration). However, I would venture to say most blogs are vox populi for voicing opinions or journal writing of some sort.

Most blogs are structurally distinguished from other websites in that stories, opinion pieces and rants are all stacked atop one another. I would equate blogs to talk radio -- a nice blog feature is the ability of readers to immediately post their opinions to what was written as opposed to sending a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine and hoping that it gets published.

Just to be clear: we at Toner Mishap are not journalists (any longer). Therefore, we don’t protect our sources -- so don’t tell us anything confidential.


Janet said...

I think blogging can definitely be a form of journalism. It's not like bloggers are getting the news first, but for many it IS where they get their news first. Plus, most days, I'd rather get my news with a little sarcasm built in then the straight-faced, misplaced expression of many journalists out there.

The Misanthrope said...

Janet, I agree with you. There are several blogs out there that do report news and they are very bit as legitimate as any newspaper. However, I think the majority of the blogs are journals and punditry, which is great. My point is that the ruling regarding Apple and the stealing of its secrets is really not a First Amendment issue.

B2 said...

Blogs are part of the public consciousness, and have importance as such. When historians seek to discover what life was really like in the past, it is day-to-day details that they seek, and blogs will certainly serve to present the zeitgeist of our times. For that reason they are now and will remain fascinating, even if they one day cease to be written.

On The Mark said...

I agree with B2. The best biographies and history books are based on correspondence, diaries, etc.

BTW, Misanthrope can speak for himself. Please tell me all your secrets. I'll protect you...

Jack's Shack said...

And to think that I was ready to share a secret w/you.

Hector Vex said...

I usually think of it this way, Journalism is when you are getting paid for it. Otherwise, we're just opinionated writers. I call myself a journalist because I have been paid to write. It's like the difference between a whore and a prostitute. We're just news whores.