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Are Bloggers Journalists? A Guide for Journalism Students

As journalism students in the 21st century, ‘blogging’ seems to be a given. We’re expected to know the basics of the internet-based “web logs” in today’s word of ever-changing of technology. Young journalists like myself aren’t phased by it. Being part of the digital generation, anything that involves the internet is a piece of cake for most of us. But in today’s world of journalism, with the internet’s endless stream of blogs, we have to start to think critically about this. Are bloggers considered journalists? Is a blog a valuable resource? After a quick Internet search, there seems to be some mixed opinions on the matter. 

Blogger Chris Pirillo states on his blog that he doesn’t necessarily believe that bloggers should be considered journalists. He states that “bloggers tend to write what they know, think and feel. Journalists are supposed to give facts, and unfortunately don’t always get them correct”. Throughout the comments on this post, most people agree that blogging is not journalism. However, it is important to mention that this post is over 5 years old. I think it’s interesting though, because do we still think like that? In today’s society, where well-known publications such as The New York Times feature blogs on their websites, how can we write off blogging so quickly? 

Journalism is a tricky business. It can be a hard one to break into, and sometimes, no prior journalism training is needed. What is needed? Experience. That is why blogging is so important for journalism students; it allows us to write. We can use our blogs to write about whatever we’re not able to write about at school or in our school newspapers. Montreal-based blogger Steve Faguy, who happens to be a graduate of Concordia’s journalism program, stresses the importance of getting proper experience in the field. In a blog post about today’s journalism students lacking enthusiasm for the field, he states “[…]when I talk to journalism students, I implore them to start doing journalism, to start covering stories that aren’t being covered. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a blog or a university paper or the New York Times magazine”. As a working journalist, he knows that it can be difficult to get work once you’re out of school. 

Besides the fact that blogging is a great way to get writing experience, it’s also a way to gain an audience. Sue Greenwood of Staffordshire University, who teaches a class on blogging for journalism students, teaches her students more than just journalistic writing. She teaches them how to write what people want to read and how to attract people to their website. It’s more than just writing skills, it’s about how to use the right words to draw people in through web searches, for example. For people in the industry, knowing the exact audience isn’t quite as important, but, as she states, “that’s what effective bloggers do”. 

Even though many of us can see why, in today’s society, blogging is an important task, some bloggers still don’t see it as being a reputable form of journalism. As it was simply put on the blog The Anti-Social Media: “There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a blogger’s perspective and opinions. Just don’t forget they’re not out for factual accuracy and have an agenda to fulfill”. Although I agree that maybe some bloggers are merely people talking about what annoys them and are not reputable sources, it’s not fair to completely disregard the medium completely. 

Speaking as a student and aspiring journalist, I’ve found that blogging is a great way to practice my writing, but also to express myself. If you’re thinking of starting your own blog, there are some things you should know:

Journalism 101:
Since many bloggers are known to share their opinions while completely disregarding any form of impartiality, it’s important to know the basics of journalism if you plan to run your blog professionally.

6 Things To Consider: 
Similarly, this is another resource for up and coming bloggers who wish to stick to the journalistic integrity. It gives tips on how to make your blog “seem more professional and reliable”.

New York Times Blog Directory:
Lastly, I though I would include a list well-done blogs as a point of reference. This list of reputable, New York Times affiliated blogs just goes to show that it can indeed be a form of journalism, not just a place for people to vent.