Is It Journalism or Blogging? Or Neither?

    December 16, 2011

According to the Free Online Dictionary, journalism is defined as:

1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
4. Newspapers and magazines.
5. An academic course training students in journalism.
6. Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.

How do you define journalism? Let us know.

To me, the most prominent section of this definition is part 3, which essentially points to the objectivity aspect of journalism. However, when you think about this, how many mainstream journalists or media outlets does this aspect describe? And, if this is the definition, should it be enforced? Should journalists set themselves at a higher standard than they currently are?

On the other hand, is this definition even accurate today? Or, has it evolved with the advent of blogging?

These are just a few of the questions that are being raised after Crystal Cox, who calls herself an investigative blogger, was charged with defamation and ordered to pay $2.5 million after an Oregon court recently ruled that she was not protected under the state’s media shield law. As WebProNews covered here and here, Cox was sued by Obsidian Finance Group earlier this year after she accused the firm’s co-founder, Kevin Padrick, of fraud, dishonesty with shareholders, and abuse of his position as the company’s chapter 11 trustee.

Cox, who defended herself in court, said that, because her content was based on information from an inside source, she was protected through the media shield law. The court, however, said that she was not associated with an established media outlet and was therefore, not a journalist.

In the above interview, Cox told us that she does consider herself to be a journalist, saying: “I have taken depositions, I’ve interviewed people, I have over 400 sites, I’ve researched this case, I’ve watched insider meetings… I’m not just any blogger on it.”

“I don’t have one blog… this is what I do all day, everyday, [and] have for years,” she added.

Cox told us that she does not, however, consider all bloggers to be journalists. In addition, she does not think that the perception people have about journalism is correct and said that it wasn’t about getting both sides of the story.

“I think it’s about digging in documents, reading depositions, reading court cases, watching videos – really doing deep investigation,” Cox said. “Real journalists should actually investigate and be willing to read it and be passionate about the story.”

As far as her next steps are concerned, Cox told us that she is still uncertain. She has been in talks with First Amendment experts and other groups to weigh out all her options. She is trying to decide if appealing the court ruling or stepping down will do the most toward encouraging equal rights for bloggers and journalists. If she does appeal, Cox said she would not represent herself.

Ideally, she would like to see her story result in a federal shield law and “for all bloggers to have rights as journalists, if they do what journalists do.”

Is Crystal Cox a blogger or journalist? You decide.