This is not an exit

What can bloggers learn from journalists and vice-versa?

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm

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The basis for the post is two different Poynter essays: “What Bloggers Can Learn From Journalists” and “What Journalists Can Learn From Bloggers.”

It’s a bit hard to dissect both lessons when the lines that defined the rigid boundary between blogger and journalist in 2004 — when the articles were written — has become blurred over time to the point that there’s hardly a difference between the two practices.

The blurring of those lines is personified in Brian Stelter. He’s the senior media correspondent for CNN. Before that, he worked for The New York Times with fellow blogger/reporter badass David Carr. And before that? He was a blogger. Take a quick look at the trailer for Page One: Inside the New York Times:

The first person who pops up, the guy in the green shirt, is Brian Stelter. Five minutes of the documentary are dedicated to his recruitment by the Times. As a student blogger at Towson University, his site became a must-read for movers and shakers in the news industry. As soon as he graduated, the Times picked him up and put him on the media desk, where he kept an eye on the industry’s happenings. Some of his most notable coverage included WikiLeaks’ document dump in 2010 that divulged U.S. military secrets to the media.

Although Stelter started as a blogger, his technique and his work at The Times has never adhered to the popular notion that bloggers are primarily commentators and aggregators.

That perception may have been true in 2004. Hell, it was the truth in 2011, when The Huffington Post came under fire for its prolific use of content produced by unpaid contributors and its aggregation of other news sources’ content. Then in 2012, Arianna Huffington’s crew won a Pulitzer Prize.

The difference between those years was the Post’s hiring of paid reporters to contribute original content. Although plenty of the content The Huffington Post produces these days is an aggregation of news from around the country, its reporters also go out of their way to call sources, get additional input and follow up.

So what’s the difference between blogging and reporting again?

Gawker’s writers make no secret of their stance on particular subjects — specifically, lately, Vice Media’s public image and its repercussions on the company’s other dealings — but does that dilute the power of the reporting? Sure, Hamilton Nolan breaks one of the cardinal rules that we’re taught in journalism school — to leave your opinion out of your reporting — but at least you know where he stands. And in the end, is that such a bad thing?

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