Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are Bloggers Journalists? Pew Sez Most Think Not

Here's a giant news flash for *some* journalists (yes, you know who you are) out there who've had their knickers in a bunch about the profession of journalism being molested and bastardized by "those bloggers": Pew discovers that most bloggers(64%)don't think of themselves as journalists.

Yes, that's right: 64 percent of folks who blog, who were surveyed by Pew between July '05 and Feb '06, don't believe themselves to be journalists.

Holy mother of pearl! What a (well-duh!) revelation!

So, all you former debate squad geeks can simply get over it now:
About 77 percent of blog authors, or "bloggers," said they post to express themselves creatively rather to get noticed or paid, according to the report, released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. About 34 percent of bloggers feel what they do is journalism--so those among you who really care about journalism can start having real conversations with this group of folks that could be called "citizen journalists." Most--I'd hazard a guess from knowing some of them-- are probably doing some very decent citizen journalism--with a method and some fact-checking and editing. Those are the folks journalists should befriend and be involved with--not criticize and deride--because most of them have very good reasons for what they are doing. They can articulate exactly why they are doing "citizen journalism" and I'm sure they'd be glad to share their reasons with you.

Oddly 8% of Internet users write blogs, while 39% read them. Yes, people are, for the most part, lurkers rather than joiners. But that's okay. There are always more book readers than book writers.

And there are always more voyeurs than participants.

Blogging then, for most of The People, is about expression, being creative, and conversation. It is only about journalism when the blogger decides it should be--and only about a third have made that decision.

Why some journalists and ivory-tower types have, over the years, had trouble getting with the facts that Pew confirms (and I've known since I started blogging) is simply that they do not read or listen to "The People" that they always flap their gums about. Do they want the world to bend to their will because of some over-inflated sense of self-importance? IMHO, a good remedy would be to stop talking among themselves, grow backbones, and start talking to The People. The People are not their servants nor subjects whose will needs to bend to their theories. The People--or, more appropriately in this case,The Users--know what they are doing, why they do it, and will be very glad to talk about it.

As far as I'm concerned, Pew's study confirms what I have been saying all along about my own blogging and the blogging of many of The People I know. Further, Pew confirms what I've always said about my personal blog: that it is on-going memoir and conversation, not journalism. What I do here on this blog is commentary and could, under certain circumstances, be a form of citizen journalism because of its content. But, neither blog is the journalism that I do for Corante or the journalism I've done for other publications. It is by directing my writing on a certain subject, and by having that writing go thru an editorial process,my accepting the process, and that I made money from it, that I can call myself a journalist.

The People know what they are doing, and why they are doing it. The People don't have a problem with journalism being journalism, and The People don't have a problem with blogging being blogging. The People know what blogging is and what journalism is, and know that the preponderance of what they are doing is not journalism. The People who want their blogging to be journalism, more than likely, know what they are doing--otherwise they wouldn't answer affirmatively to the question about their blogs being journalism.

I know the debates aren't over, and I'm sure there will be so many who will want to debate Pew's findings. But if I had the money, I'd send the folks at Pew a huge basket of gourmet muffins just to thank them for throwing down this wonderful gauntlet and sticking it to all those folks who so want to use blogging (and bloggers) to support their own personally-held ideologies and agendas.

The People have spoken. Now, all You need to do is listen.

Update From one of the Pew researchers: "Much of the public and press attention to bloggers has focused on the small number of high-traffic, A-list bloggers. . . By asking a wide range of bloggers what they do and why they do it, we have found a different kind of story about the power of the internet to encourage creativity and community among all kinds of internet users."

Also: 54% of bloggers say that they have never published their writing or media creations anywhere else; 44% say they have published elsewhere.

yes, we like to write!

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