Last week there was a discussion on one of my listservs about “real” journalists as opposed to bloggers; e.g. only journalists are credible resources. Naturally, I disagreed.
Whether or not bloggers are journalists in the traditional sense is becoming a moot point because “citizen journalists” are now considered by many to be just as respected as “real” journalists. Look at The Huffington Post’s “Off the Bus,” a “citizen-powered and -produced presidential campaign news site.” Apparently the model is a huge success because just today I got an email from them announcing a new section, “Eyes and Ears,” which will feature “people-powered…stories from a network of thousands around the United States.”
Yeah, but who’s reading this stuff, you ask? I’ll tell you who: “real” journalists. Back in April, an Off the Bus blogger quoted Barack Obama in a post about a fundraiser; two days later Tim Russert featured the story on Meet the Press, as did the New York Times, the Guardian and the LA Times.
Let’s see–so we have bloggers who are influencing the election; how about the stock market? Last week a citizen journalist wrote that Steve Jobs had a heart attack and Apple stock plummeted 10 points. The fact that a citizen journalist can have this kind of impact is enough to give anyone heart failure.
Like The Huffington Post, though, CNN has decided to embrace–rather than fight– the rise of citizen journalism by launching iReport. Its tagline is “Unedited. Unfiltered. News.” and anyone can blog or post videos about news.
Here’s the thing: whether you want to call bloggers “real” journalists or not is irrelevant. According to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, 77% of Internet users read blogs and that number is going to continue to rise. Meanwhile, readership of print publications is down and continues to fall. Do the math–and then watch what you say because you never know who might be citizen journalist.