Bloggers as journalists?

“Let’s see here, I have three Whopper Jr’s, a Thune press release, a hidden server and STYX blaring on my stereo. I’m ready to blog!”

The Argus is at it again, asking if Bloggers are journalists. I ask the bigger question, are their journalists very good bloggers? Well, during the State Legislative session, David Montgomery had the most extensive coverage of any journalist of the session. Fair, balanced and accurate, but you didn’t read about it in the newspaper or even on their website, all of this very well balanced ‘reporting’ by a ‘journalist’ occurred on David’s BLOG.

Do I think I am a journalist? No. I prefer citizen advocate. I don’t have a degree in journalism, and I often misspell words and use poor grammar. But the main reason I don’t consider myself a journalist is because 1) I am not getting paid to write on my blog 2) I don’t consider what I do as writing ‘news’ stories. I see things happening, I get a couple of good sources, I ask questions. I also offer my opinion, which makes me more of an editorialist then anything (the main reason I started the blog to begin with).

I did get a kick out of the cast of characters rooted up for the Robo-call trial though;

He and several high-profile Republicans have been called by Willard as witnesses for the defense, along with Secretary of State Jason Gant, state senator Dan Lederman, and Tony Venhuizen, a senior adviser to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. (also Powers, Joel Arends and Shawn ‘The Tornado’ Tornow are involved).

Joel Arends VS. Shawn Tornow. Would love to see that Sh*t Show. I hope they don’t slip on each other’s slime. Then you have Powers as a ‘Journalist’ (I didn’t know publishing Thune and Noem press releases was considered ‘journalism’)

So do I agree with the judge that bloggers are journalists? I dunno?



28 comments ↓

#1 Guest on 08.27.13 at 2:18 pm

DL, your post brings up a very good point,

#2 Guest Poster on 08.27.13 at 3:12 pm

You asked “So do I agree with the judge that bloggers are journalists? ” I say “Why not?”

In the United States do we have journalist licenses? When did a person have to go get an advanced degree at a school or university to become a reporter? Do we have a licensing bureau for newspapers? At what point does a person or business get 1st or 4th Amendment privacy protections afforded newspapers, media and columnists?

As far as I know, we do not have journalist accrediting bureaus or government agencies telling us what is a reporter or newspaper of fact. It is our responsibility as citizens is to sort out facts from fantasy from all sources. The determination has to be the difference between a person doing actual journalist work of digging then reporting facts from sources or someone just jabbering on-line or copying someone elses research and claiming it as theirs.

So if a person has a blog and trying to do original research to publish, where do we draw a line? Why should a person have to divulge sources when doing research prior or post publication. What difference does it make is a person prints on a Gutenberg or on a webpage?

This blog, MadvilleTimes, heck even DWC report news before the media ever knows what happened. Why is this not considered media? Why should only legacy media be considered authoritative / legitimate? Consider if the Koch brothers had purchased the Tribune
Media empire, would their personal live then be out of reach of investigators under the guise of “Freedom of Speech”?

#3 Detroit Lewis on 08.27.13 at 3:20 pm

Speaking of news stories, I can’t divulge a name, but someone will be announcing soon that they will be running against Gant for SOS in the convention. I would expect the announcement in the coming weeks.

#4 Craig on 08.27.13 at 3:34 pm

This is a tough one. I would say some bloggers are very much journalists while others aren’t. I think it boils down to content. Some blogs are nothing more than online journals of someone’s day – that really isn’t journalism.

However when someone researches a story and writes a post which includes quotes and sources… in my mind that is journalism. I don’t care if the post is read by 10 people or 10,000… it is still journalism.

I don’t think there is a clear line here though – it is very blurry.

#5 Scott on 08.27.13 at 3:54 pm

It’s something the courts are going to be scratching their heads over for quite some time. I don’t think there can ever be a blanket decision, though, as there’s no reasonable expectation that what you read on a blog can be held up as fact. I know of a reality contestant that attempted to sue one of his costars based on a blog. It didn’t go well for him.

#6 Detroit Lewis on 08.27.13 at 4:10 pm

Craig, it’s blurry alright. I guess I really don’t know what I consider what I do? Most call me a short, angry asshole, but does that make me a journalist 🙂

#7 LJL on 08.27.13 at 9:39 pm

Well when I am a contributor to the news < than journalism has certainly shit the bed.

#8 anominous on 08.27.13 at 10:13 pm

Tornow as a defense attorney = “My Cousin Vinny”.

#9 Craig on 08.28.13 at 9:21 am

Hey DL, if Lalley can get away with essentially publishing his bike riding stories in the paper and calling himself a journalist, then you must be one too.

Seriously – how does that guy call himself a “columnist” when the only thing he seems to be able to write about are his bike riding, running, or training for an Ironman? Yet the Argus can’t figure out why subscribers keep leaving… I don’t know, maybe it has something to do with a lack of substance in the paper? When is the last time they actually broke a major story or did a multi-day investigative report?

Nobody even wants the Argus even when they practically give it away. In fact I was at Hy-Vee one day and they were GIVING papers away, but even then nobody was taking them! Heck, they are now to the point where they can’t even find people to deliver their papers… so it isn’t just readers who don’t want to touch it.

So yea – if they consider themselves journalists, then I know of many bloggers who also deserve the label.

#10 Poly43 on 08.28.13 at 11:20 am

Craig, as I read thru this entry, all I could think about was lalley telling me about his bee stings. Is that what the lead editor really gets paid for? I don’t think so. That’s why I come here. Because in my mind Scott really is in the truest sense of the word a journalist. What masquerades around this town as media is bought and paid for.

My favorite journalist of bygone days was and still is to some degree, Bill Moyers. He had this to say once.

…another of journalism’s basic lessons. The job of trying to tell the truth about people whose job it is to hide the truth is almost as complicated and difficult as trying to hide it in the first place. One of my mentors years ago told me that “news is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.” When you’re digging for what’s hidden, unless you’re willing to fight and re-fight the same battles until you go blue in the face, drive your colleagues nuts going over every last detail to make certain you’ve got it right, and then take hit after unfair hit accusing you of bias, there’s no use even trying. You have to love it, and I do. But I have had to keep telling myself to remember John Henry Faulk’s counsel: You can’t spook out.

That’s why I think of you as a journalist Scott. This is a place where I can go because you seek the truth from those hiding the truth.

Don’t spook out.

#11 anonymous on 08.28.13 at 2:08 pm

The Argus Leader….

South Dakota’s largest newspaper.

I think residents of this area are bored to death with:

Patrick Lalley and his bicycle

Jacqueline Palfy, her two kids and her running woes

and, Cory Meyers and his food!

What’s really scary was watching 100 Eyes on Politics last Tuesday when they introduced the meek new reporter who is going to cover local politics! MMM must be ecstatic, she doesn’t have a clue!

She thinks Urban Ag is going to be on November’s ballot!!!!!

Randall better give her a crash course on snowgates, swimming pools, zoning regulations, Walmarts, four open council seats and a mayor!!

And that doesn’t even touch railroad relocation, TIFs, the river greenway, the very poor relationship between the Mayor and the Council (you know, what he refers to as “THE TEAM”), a 183 million dollar Events Center with NO tenants…..I could keep going, but I won’t.

#12 anonymous on 08.28.13 at 2:12 pm

AL local politics:

J.L. Atyeo

#13 anonymous on 08.28.13 at 4:09 pm

I forgot to mention….

she said she just went to her FIRST Council meeting.

#14 anonymous on 08.28.13 at 4:11 pm

Sorry, I said I won’t keep going!!

#15 Testor15 on 08.28.13 at 5:52 pm

anonymous #11 to #14, this is what you get when you go to journalism school. What comes first the ability to write biking stories or knowing government or what the 1st Amendment really is?

Journalism schools are there to teach how to write a human interest story while the place is stolen out from under the public. A slight of hand game…

#16 Poly43 on 08.28.13 at 7:42 pm

Journalism schools are there to teach how to write a human interest story while the place is stolen out from under the public. A slight of hand game…

AMEN

#17 Winston on 08.29.13 at 12:26 pm

Hell yes! You are especially a journalist if others quote your website and the old media calls publicly ordains you the new media. I ask, how many years must a paper print before it is a part of the print media and how many years does a news show need to air before it is a part of the electronic media?

If I want to dust-off my old typewriter and get some carbon paper out of the closet and type-up my own self-proclaimed newspaper, The Daily Falls, I am a journalist and a publisher. I might or might not be credible, but this not the issue. The same First Amendment, which allows me to type, publish, and stand out on a street corner to push my rag, is the same First Amendment which affords me the same First Amendment rights which the Courts have already overtime developed and extended to mainstream journalist as well.

The great humor, however, in this whole DWC v. a Circuit Court Judge, is how Powers is hiding behind an ACLU First Amendment argument to protect his comments and sources…. Who would have ever thought?….. Powers and the ACLU…. Only in America!

#18 MJL on 08.29.13 at 5:13 pm

Maybe you are like Fox News Journalists….You provide a lot of opinion with some evidence. That is the way I view my blog, Cory’s blog, and Pat’s blog (minus the intelligent commentary on Pat’s blog).

#19 Bill Dithmer on 08.30.13 at 10:13 am

SPJ Code of Ethics

Preamble
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice.

Seek Truth and
Report It
Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
— Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
— Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
— Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
— Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
— Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations.
— Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it.
— Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story
— Never plagiarize.
— Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so.
— Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
— Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status.
— Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
— Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid.
— Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
— Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.
— Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.

Minimize Harm
Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:

— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
— Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
— Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
— Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
— Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes.
— Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges.
— Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.

Act Independently
Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

Journalists should:

—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
— Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
— Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
— Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
— Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
— Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
— Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

Be Accountable
Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.

Journalists should:

— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
— Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
— Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
— Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
— Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals.

I guess I’m not one.

The Blindman

#20 Testor15 on 08.31.13 at 8:46 am

Bill D, how does this apply to the PayWall Leader?

#21 Bill Dithmer on 08.31.13 at 9:45 am

That’s simple. Because the same rules, according to the code, don’t apply to bloggers that apply to journalist, self imposed or not.

Blogs today are for the most part what yellow journalism use to be, one sided, and slanted toward what that particular person believes. I’m not saying it’s wrong, far from it. I blog on any number of blogs even though I might not agree what their basic philosophy.

I blog therefore I’m a blogger, not a journalist.

The Blindman

#22 Testor15 on 08.31.13 at 11:53 am

Just because your local paper gives lip service to a code they are automatically to be considered journalists but DL can’t be a journalist (for point of law)? DL breaks more news in Sioux Falls and South Dakota then the PayWall leader over the last few years. What if the state decides to go after him for his source for a fast breaking story? Doesn’t he deserve 1st amendment / freedom of the press protection even if he doesn’t pay the yearly membership fee?

The code / oath you posted above is nice but it becomes a society of protecteds versus allowing all of us to be protected by the Constitution.

#23 Winston on 08.31.13 at 4:47 pm

There is a distinction between the bloggee and a blogger. The judge in the Willard case called the bloggee a journalist and not the resulting bloggers.

Often I have read on this blog site and others about the new media. Well, if it is a media how can it not be a form of journalism?

The word media it self is a means or information conduit, but when used in the context of old or new media we are really talking about old or new journalism. Scott, Cory, and Pat, as examples, are journalists, the rest of us are either self proclaimed editorialists, prolific writers of letters to the editor, and/or public sources which push a news story, and the totality of our literal contributions help to write the news story itself. A blog site is merely a public display of a newsroom, with all the sausage making which goes on in it, and the eventual story which is born from it.

If a blog site can take pride in breaking news stories, then how can it not be a journalist reality, I ask?

#24 Poly43 on 08.31.13 at 5:18 pm

Blogs today are for the most part what yellow journalism use to be, one sided, and slanted toward what that particular person believes./I>

And you believe the Paywall leader is not one sided or slanted by its advertisers? Man, have I got some ocean front property you’d really like to look at down by Beresford.

#25 Bill Dithmer on 08.31.13 at 5:36 pm

“There is a distinction between the bloggee and a blogger. The judge in the Willard case called the bloggee a journalist and not the resulting bloggers.

Except for the original thread that the bloggee posted both are the same. They both give and take and then reevaluate and give again. I don’t see any difference in the two either by definition or their originality.

I guess it’s a matter of who is doing it,”Journalists vs. Bloggers.” The debate continues here.

http://www.sayeverything.com/excerpt/chapter-nine-journalists-vs-bloggers/

And here

http://www.lisaspangenberg.com/it/2002/06/05/pro-and-amateur/

The Blindman

#26 Detroit Lewis on 08.31.13 at 11:02 pm

Poly, thank you. We know KELO is blatant about this, But the Argue Endorser tries to be coy, give me a break. Who does 9 million press conferences at a half-rate burger joint? The AL. Went there. I can cook, eat, fuck and suck the same burger at home for $2. While I was waiting for my burger and eating my free (unsalted) peanuts, I saw Jodi Schwan, she looked annoyed and bored out her mind. I am sure she was thinking, “How can I was this grease smell outta my hair?”

#27 anominous on 10.29.13 at 11:04 am

Ahem…

http://www.theonion.com/articles/william-safire-orders-two-whoppers-junior,3351/

#28 pathloss on 01.01.14 at 7:56 am

I come here for truth. The Argus is in bed with politicians. It’s a good source for rest home knitting and domino groups. I may take it when I need papers for a dog to crap on. Local TV is corn commercials and social stuff. Once in awhile they use AP and read from it. KELO is good for weather. KSFY is better for news.

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