What Separates a Blogger from a Journalist?

    April 22, 2009
    Chris Crum

The New York Times is running an article looking at "hyperlocal" web sites as replacements to traditional newspapers. The catalyst for the concept is obviously the fact that some newspapers have been dying off, at least in print form.

The piece looks at web startups EveryBlock, Outside.in, Placebologger, and Patch, which "collect links to articles and blogs and often supplement them with data from local governments and other sources." It is an interesting look into some possibilities for local news options beyond the local paper.


Some bloggers take exception to a couple of things implied in the article however. Matt McGee, who has a blog dedicated strictly to local blogging, pulls the following excerpt from the NYT piece:

One hurdle is the need for reliable, quality content. The information on many of these sites can still appear woefully incomplete. Crime reports on EveryBlock, for example, are short on details of what happened. Links to professionally written news articles on Outside.in are mixed with trivial and sometimes irrelevant blog posts.

That raises the question of what these hyperlocal sites will do if newspapers, a main source of credible information, go out of business. “They rely on pulling data from other sources, so they really can’t function if news organizations disappear,” said Steve Outing, who writes about online media for Editor & Publisher Online.

Matt McGee "Inherent in those two paragraphs is this idea that there’s some kind of separation between so-called ‘professionally written news’ and what local news blogs are doing," says McGee. "This Just In: Professionally written news articles are also sometimes trivial and irrelevant. This isn’t just a blogging thing. But that’s an attitude that continues to thrive in some traditional media circles."

Matt makes a great point. It’s not a new point. It’s often made in the whole blogger/journalist debate, but he phrases it well.

So I ask you, what separates a blogger from a journalist? I’ve seen plenty of credible and non-credible bloggers, as well as credible and non-credible "journalists." Where is the line? Your thoughts? Comment.

 Update: Steve Outing, who the NYT quoted in this story has commented on this article below saying that his opinions were misrepresented by the Times. Kind of ironic, given the subject of discussion.Join the discussion.