Bloggers vs Journalists or the Best of Both Worlds?

Crossposted at my blog.

I will be attending the Global Voices Online summit on Dec 10th in London. Am on at this session :

"SESSION TWO 11:30-1:00 Best of both worlds

Much is made of the “blogging vs. journalism” argument. We believe there can and must be room for both in this world, and that the world will be better for having both. In this session we explore the potential for synergies between professional journalists and citizen-bloggers. How do journalists and bloggers interact in the world outside the US and Europe? How can bloggers become journalists and journalists become bloggers? How do the two learn to work together and respect each other? How can we combine the value of professional journalism with the power of citizens’ online conversation to help all members of the human race understand each other better?

Led by Rebecca MacKinnon, with input from Jeff Ooi (Malaysia), Ndesanjo Macha (Tanzania), Dina Mehta (India), Georgia Popplewell (Trinidad & Tobago), David Sasaki (Americas Editor), Onnik Krikorian (Armenia), Ben Parmann (Eurasia Blog), and Dean Wright (Reuters)"

There has been much happening in India in a ' us vs them' way, with the most 'famous' controversies being Mediaah and IIPM, with bloggers swarming in full passion against attacks on other bloggers. And there is evidence that mainstream media is looking hard at blogging -- I see blogs being mentioned almost daily now in some newspaper, magazine or TV report here in India.

We know blogging is a very powerful tool, and I have lived with this realization since the Tsunamis struck. But power without restraint, responsibility and maturity can be really really dangerous. There is a case for more responsibility and ethics for bloggers - bloggers have been known to pass sentences in mob justice.

Darryl D'Monte one of our more respected journalists asks, are bloggers parked:

"When does a writer become a blogger? This is a question that is familiar to anyone who uses a keyboard these days, but the obverse question isn't as familiar: when does a blogger become a writer? At a recent workshop on effective writing on the web, organized by The New Media initiative of the Mumbai-based Comet Media Foundation, the inveterate blogger, Dina Mehta, asked this latter question bluntly, and implied in response that there is no difference between the two. Many old media hands and creative writers, however, begged to differ.

"....... At the same time, it is true that with the mainstream media dumbing down with a vengeance and looking to their bottom line rather than people who live at the bottom, bloggers are very much in business. They are telling it like it is, rather than what media barons decide is politically or commercially more convenient. In the US, the war in Iraq is condemned far more pungently in blogs. But blogs aren't about to destroy conventional media anytime soon"

And bloggers are turning their voices against mainstream journalists who are beginning to lift articles from bloggers without attribution, and then retracting in some cases in their online versions - but the damage has been done already in print. [Thanks Aparna for the links].

When asked, I always say I am not a journalist, I am a blogger. There are rubs - professional bloggers increasingly want to make some money off blogging. Still, the long tail of blogging remains quite personal for most bloggers, with the exception of a few. Then, there are more and more journalists who are becoming good bloggers - I think it helps them at what they do.

Yet, there is a distinction in my mind - blog media is about rub points and conversations, it is about writing out loud and learning, it is about reporting in real voices in real time. Blog media can be individual or group perspectives, most tend to be independent voices, the only community that is formed is in the links, whereas MSM is about reporting on facts or interviews within the context of a newspaper or station or media empire.

So are bloggers the fifth brigade? How can we co-exist with journalists, feeding off each other, with trust and respect? Is there scope to collaborate and not compete? Bloggers, by the diverse places from where they come, can report many more things in real time than MSM reporters can hope to reach - again, the tsunamis blog and wiki experiences exemplified this - how can this value be embraced as a strength? Aparna again points me to some MSM publications that actually have a link against articles that says something like - "Who's Blogging - read what bloggers are saying about this" - that's a great example.

A picture named readblogs MSM.JPG

I'd love to hear you views on these issues, not just in preparation for the session, but also because these are issues we are being faced with increasingly.

When mainstream media gives No. one business school rankings to an institute where the owners have interpol arrest warrants (verified via Rajya Sabha question and answer session transcript) blogging seems to be the only way out?
I'm new to blogging. I would, in contrast to yourself, describe myself as a journalist as opposed to a blogger. But I do feel they can be interchangeable, to me my blogs represent an opportunity to practice my writing.

But I have obviously become aware of the 'us vs. them' mentality. Yet I note this has been more prevalent in the Indian media and Indian blog-world. Would you agree? If so, why do you reckon this is? I hesitate from saying much more at this juncture, for, as aforementioned, I am new to all this and prefer to just learn a bit more first!

Irrespective, see you at the summit in December!
I am a journalist myself and I find a greater sense of freedom in blogging. Its not just about writing something that is beyond the byline. You could go off the record too, provided you can pre-meditate the repercussions.
But the most fascinating thing about a journalist in blogosphere has to be the fact, that he isnt confined to any particular beat!
I hope u read these comments, bcoz I have been trying to reach you since long, I tried posting my contributions on your magazine jam but it keeps showing errors.
Hi, I have heard that u are on lookout for talented writers, I am one...please visit my blog, u will agree, I am not elaborating much since I believe in DEEDS MORE THAN WORDS,So I feel my blog can explain me better.
I am awaiting ur response.
I hope u read these comments, bcoz I have been trying to reach you since long, I tried posting my contributions on your magazine jam but it keeps showing errors.
Hi, I have heard that u are on lookout for talented writers, I am one...please visit my blog, u will agree, I am not elaborating much since I believe in DEEDS MORE THAN WORDS,So I feel my blog can explain me better.
I am awaiting ur response.
I think blogging and mainstream media can co-exist.

While on blogging you should also mentioned about the "blogathon" in which I participated about "street harassment" which raised awareness about this social evil. However, the media which reported this event dumbed it down.

The MSM will naturally look down at blogging as it would steal their thunder, their pay checks. That bloggers are making money from blogging is a good sign, they also have to eat, y'know.


Happy and nice blogging

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Thanks & Regards
I feel that blogging is no different than Jounralism. The difference though is the reach amongst the people in which , journalism clearly has an edge. In times to come blogging and journalism would co exist, but will have their own set of followers.
I have become more informed and involved politically, through starting my blog.
Blogging may be freedom of expression but at its very core - it is perhaps liberty.

Liberty as espoused by Mamata, Arundhuti, Medha Patkar or is it? If we do not have security, we will not have liberty - or is it that difficult to understand.

Perhaps these so called liberals should be sent to live in Afghanistan for a year : There is saying there : A woman's place is either at home or in the grave.

See the recent honour killings and live burial of women in Balochistan. I strongly feel that these Teesta Setalvads of India should really be there before telling the rest of us about "ideals".

Ultimately there is no real choice between security and liberty — for a people to have the second they must have the first.
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I respect your work very much. Well worded talent goes far in the journalism career. Keep up the good work, so far I've clearly understood and followed up with your writings and I just want to throw some kudos at you, very good to hear people putting their mind to words the clear way :)
Anyways, until the next time I run across your page, c ya' ciao!
hello sir/madam
i read your post interesting and informative. i am doing research on bloggers who use effectively blog for disseminate information.i glad if u wish to participate in my research. if you are interested please contact me through mail. thank u
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