A lot of times when I am online, I want to look up a certain topic or find out some more information on a recent news story. When I do a search for that topic or news story, I am given a list of various links to different sites that have that same keyword. Most of the sites are either news sites or blog sites. Though we might not think about it, there are distinct differences between the two. Are blog articles as reliable and informative as articles written by professional journalists? Can this blog post answer this question? After reading this, I hope that you will have a better understanding of these differences so you can consider which types are right for your research.
What is Journalism?
Journalism can best be described as ‘the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media’ and ‘writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation’(Mirriam-Webster). The news stories you read online, in newspapers and periodicals are examples of journalism, which are usually written by people who have been professionally trained to follow certain guidelines to ensure that the information they are sharing is accurate. Ideally, all parties involved in the news story, have been given the opportunity to present their side of the story. There is more of an effort to leave out the writers’ personal opinions of the story and focus on the details.
Journalism also refers to coverage of recent topics and events that are currently unfolding. ‘Timeliness is a critical component of any successful piece of journalism. Meeting deadlines and reporting factually on news as it is breaking will likely lead to a successful piece. The shelf life of a news story is limited, often becoming “old news” in the matter of days (komarketing, 2015).
Due to this need to release a story as quickly as possible, there is a risk that the story may contain inaccuracies. As the news story is further investigated and more information is discovered, it is not uncommon that the previously reported information is revealed to be inaccurate. When this occurs, the news source will publish a retraction of the original story. Personally, I try to wait a couple of days to read up on a breaking news story since it always seems that the details will change significantly as more sources are interviewed and additional footage that was originally unseen becomes available.
Journalistic articles are written with the intent of reaching a large audience through publications and websites.
What is blogging?
Blogging is a form of sharing information on websites by anyone who is willing to take the time to write or link to articles for people to read. Blog writers can write about any topic they feel like talking about. There are numerous blogging sites online. One very popular micro blogging site is Twitter. I’ve had more experience using Twitter this semester and I have seen a lot of bloggers tweeting about various topics and news stories sharing links to both blog sites and news sites. If you use Facebook, you’ve probably seen your friends post links to blog sites all the time.
The timing of a blog post is not as important a it is to journalists. ‘Similar to journalism, blogging can be done at the time a story breaks, but allows the author to take more liberties with reporting (at their own reputation’s risk). While a successful blogging strategy typically follows an editorial calendar, its success is less commonly dependent on strict time-centric guidelines as determined by the editorial team’ (komarketing, 2015).
Blog writers are writing for a smaller target audience who are interested in the topics that they are covering. ‘Instead of mass communication from a few producers to large, mostly passive audiences, blogs support a dense network of small audiences and many producers’ (Retterg, 2014). Blog writers might not have to answer to an editor but their blog posts may be monitored by site administrators to ensure the writer and commenters are following the sites terms of conduct on language (no hate speech, course language, etc.).
Blog writers can cover current events and news stories like journalists, but the writer does not have to follow the same guidelines or withhold their opinion on the subject while they are writing. They are also free to include or omit as much or as little information on the subject as they see fit and/or not obligated to offer a counter argument to any opinions presented. As with many news sites, blog writers can also offer the reader the option to leave comments about the post and further discuss it with the other readers.
Even though bloggers are not professionally trained to write about news events doesn’t immediately dismiss what they write as unreliable. A lot of blogs include links to the research they’ve done and some blog posts share links to news stories from mainstream media sites. Also, if you read articles written by different journalists covering the same news story and they work for competing networks or publications, it is likely the two stories will be written in a way to appeal to their respective audience (Especially when they cover politics). I think the best thing to do is read a little bit of everything. It may take a little longer but it’s possible you might be better informed than if you just read one type or the other.
Journalism. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/journalism
Blogging vs. Journalism: Identifying the Fundamental Differences | KoMarketing. (2015, May 18). Retrieved from https://komarketing.com/blog/blogging-vs-journalism-identifying-the-fundamental-differences/
Rettberg, J. W. (2014). Blogging. Cambridge (UK): Polity(Pg. 62)