Are bloggers journalists? Some are. Not every blogger is a journalist, and not every journalist is a blogger. I’m here, blogging, and I’m nowhere near being a journalist. But, some are. Bloggers have been responsible for breaking and carrying news stories that have resulted in senators losing their jobs and possibly changing the course of a presidential election. Good or bad. In my opinion, good. I don’t think that you need the distinction of a fancy corporation backing you and a fancy paycheck to want to find and report the news. If your only medium to do so is a blog, so be it. I think that if you are a serious citizen journalist, blogging, you should have the same rights and protections as a regular journalist. You’re doing the same job, with more dangers sometimes.
Scenario One: A reporter for a major newspaper reports, using anonymous sources, on a falsified government document. When the government agency attempts to force him to reveal his source, he refuses, and is protected by a “shield law” that he does not have to reveal those sources. A blogger breaks the exact same story at the exact same time. Should he receive the same protection? I believe that he should. Just because he doesn’t have the backing of a major media outlet doesn’t make him any different in this case. I don’t think that my answer would change if it was revealed that the blogger had been running a news and politics blog for years. Also I don’t think that the situation would change if they’d never posted a news story before but had stumbled onto this one. The end result is the same. They broke the story, with an anonymous source, and deserve to be protected.
Scenario Two: A blogger applies to receive press credentials so he can get into a political event. He is denied, because he’s not a “journalist,” even though many reporters are allowed in who have fewer readers than the blogger. Is that fair? In my opinion, no. If the blogger reports legitimately on news topics, regardless of the fact it is on a blog, and not backed by a newspaper, they should be allowed to apply for press credentials. Now, if they write a cooking blog, no. Would it matter if, instead of news bloggers and newspaper reporters the same situation arose at a fashion show with a writer for a fashion magazine and a fashion blogger? Nope. I still think that if the blogger can prove that they consistently write a fashion blog, they should be able to apply to get in. They are reporting the same information, sometimes faster than that fashion magazine writer, and sometimes to a wider and more diverse audience.
I don’t think that every blogger in the world is a legitimate journalist, and they shouldn’t all get the rights of genuine “journalists”, but in some cases, they are doing the same job, and don’t even have the benefit of pay. They are, in the truest sense of the word, amateurs. Reporting for the love of reporting.