Harpo Jaeger dot com

Are bloggers journalists? Does it matter?

This comment on Jewschool and the one directly following it got me thinking about the ethics of blogging. I’m certainly not the first to ask this question, and I tend to think that although there are certainly formalized differences between bloggers and journalists (the type of information they tend to cover, etc.,) we’re both responsible for our information. Perhaps because bloggers tend to have less editorial oversight, we feel *less responsible (and are less apt to be fired or penalized if we get a fact wrong,) but in reality, there’s a certain authority that comes with just *claiming to know facts. Anyone with a website that’s at least somewhat respectable i.e. not a conspiracy theorist is likely to be taken at least somewhat seriouslyfrom the get-go.

So bloggers, regardless of how impartial we are,should strive for the same level of integrity as journalists do. Similarly, we should recognize that blogging, like journalism, can serve an important public function, and we should try to live up to that. Which is why this is particularly disgusting:

There has been widespread condemnation of the violence directed against journalists covering events in Egyptand there should be. But honestly, I dont have a great deal of sympathy for those who have been attacked.

Journalists have a job to do, but when they take huge risks for the sake of ratings and then find themselves in trouble, its hard to take seriously any shock that media executives express about their journalists being targeted.

Despite news organizations’ general preference for ad revenue over real journalism, the fact remains that correspondents in the field are putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of spreading important information.

Journalists should use judgment and not race into the middle of what amounts to a massive bar room brawl without expecting something bad to happen.

First of all, the situation in Egypt only “amounts to a massive bar room brawl” if half the people in said brawl were paid to be there and to instigate violence. Second of all, I imagine those journalists did expect something to happen. They knew very well what they were getting into, and they did it anyway. That’s laudable.

Bottom line: bloggers and journalists have been providing us with incredibly important information on the ground in Egypt. Show some respect, people.