Ask the Coach

Just another Freedom Forum Diversity Institute weblog

Blogging as journalism?


Dear Coach,

With the advent of Occupy Wall Street, and with demonstrations popping up in cities across the country, many activists are blogging about their experiences. Would this be considered authentic journalism, despite its coming from a biased source? — Pre-Occupied

Dear Occupy,

This is a question debated in journalism circles since the earliest days. Here’s my best short version. If bloggers and tweeters are describing events – from plum-tree blooming to protesters running – that’s news. News happens. Nobody has a premium on reporting it. But journalism is not the same as news. Sound journalism is the rigorous practice of verifying, clarifying and contextualizing the news. Some bloggers and tweeters are digging for and sticking to facts as they try to tell the truth about what happened. They may not have full-time jobs as journalists, but when they report or photograph events, they can be acting journalistically.

You also raise the question of advocacy, again endlessly debated. A recent article in the Occupy Wall Street Journal, the broadsheet the protesters in New York have been publishing, illustrates: “For over two weeks, in the great cathedral of capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police armies.” Fun, interesting, but there is no attempt to use objective methods to overcome the emotional bias we all can feel. It’s commentary, really, or a form of advocacy journalism. The views certainly are worth quoting in a news story that has a multitude of views and many more facts about who is really at the demonstration, what they really want and how authorities are really reacting.

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2 Comments

  1. Frank Gonzales
    02.10.12

    Well put and interesting take. Sure puts facebook status updates in a different perspective.

  2. Interesting post and topic! I love the term “advocacy journalism.”

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