Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Paper Or Electron ... The Medium Doesn't Define Journalism

Posted by Tom Foremski - May 10, 2011

MG Siegler, one of the top reporters at Techcrunch, recently wrote on his personal site about the silly distinction that some people make between bloggers and journalists.

It is similar to my experience of when I left the Financial Times to launch SVW in mid-2004. Many people said I was now a "blogger" but I pointed out that I'm still writing news, conducting interviews, writing analysis articles, in pretty much the same manner as I did at the Financial Times. I was still a journalist.

Mr Siegler writes in Us And Them:

There's great journalism going on within the confines of blogs all the time. Going forward, this will only continue to be the case more and more...

Journalism is technically defined as "the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business." You'll notice there's nothing there about going to journalism school or printing words on a tangible object.

I agree. And I've often said to people who are confused about who is a journalist, and who is a blogger, that they apply this simple test:

If it looks like journalism, and it consistently looks like journalism, then it is journalism.

Techcrunch employs journalists. Techcrunch is a media organization with all the infrastructure, people, and job descriptions that any other media organization carries, just like any newspaper or magazine.

Just because it uses a blogging platform to publish its stories makes no difference to the fact that Techcrunch is a news organization staffed by journalists. Paper or electron -- the medium doesn't change the job.

(I was once asked if my publication is online only, I replied, no, I can print it out for you if you'd like.)

Being a journalist also means agreeing to a common ethical code: try to be fair and accurate in your reporting. Try to be objective. Try to be responsible in your reporting. Try to reduce or avoid conflicts of interest. Don't make personal investments in companies that you write about. Mr Siegler seems to abide by these rules. I don't see any point in denying him the epithet of "journalist."

Mr Siegler writes:

"Journalist" versus "blogger" is just a distraction from all that really matters: information.

He's right.

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Parislemon.com: Us And Them


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