This weekend’s bitchmeme has been brewing for a while. The entry point was Mike’s decision to become an active investor again (while remaining at TechCrunch), but the main idea goes back far beyond that: bias, conflicts, and journalism.
Over the past 24 hours, this has all made for a great debate on other sites, on Twitter, and even (if you can believe it) in the TechCrunch comments. But the thing most fascinating to me about all of this is one underlying notion: that bloggers and journalists are somehow different.
It’s “us” and “them”.
It’s pretty clear that both sides believe this. The journalists (or former journalists) note that Mike is a blogger as if it’s some derogatory term. Mike, meanwhile, states he’s a blogger as a badge of honor — and interestingly, almost as an excuse for whatever he wants to do.
As I see it, the line between journalist and blogger is already beyond blurred. How many former journalists are now bloggers (including people like Kara)? How many bloggers make the jump and go the other way (not as many mainly due to the macro industry trend, but it certainly happens)?
It seems to be the case that the blogger vs. journalist thing isn’t so much about principles anymore as much as it’s about where you publish your words. If you write for a newspaper or magazine, you’re clearly a journalist. If you write for a blog, you’re a blogger.
That’s how most people see it.
But it’s nonsense.
There’s great journalism going on within the confines of blogs all the time. Going forward, this will only continue to be the case more and more.
One reason is certainly the slow death of print and the movement of traditional journalists to online media. But it’s also a new crop of writers who are blazing a new trail with regard to information dissemination.
Journalism is technically defined as “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.” You’ll notice there’s nothing there about going to journalism school or printing words on a tangible object.
In fact, newspapers didn’t even exist until sometime between 1600 and 1700. So how was information getting out before that? I suspect that a person playing the journalism card may try to convince you that it didn’t.
Is this just me, as a person who didn’t study journalism, trying to make myself feel better or more relevant? No. I don’t give a shit what you call what it is that I do. I know what I do, and I know that it’s fundamentally no different from what “they” do.
But it’s usually “them” who have a problem saying that what “we” do is the same as what “they” do. Because how could “we” possibly come out of nowhere and just start doing what “they” have after years of training?
The flipside is that “we” view “them” as a dying breed that is out of touch with what “we’re” doing. And “they” can’t possibly do what “we” do because “they’re” too slow and/or lazy.
Again, I don’t think either side is true. But I do think that “us” and “them” are merging and have in many cases already merged to form the new face of journalism.
That’s not a new idea, of course. But it’s interesting that there’s so much “us” and “them” talk still out there.
They have biases. We have biases.
They’re conflicted. We’re conflicted.
The arguments now seem to break down to a matter of semantics. Or even less.
“Journalist” versus “blogger” is just a distraction from all that really matters: information. Who has broken more news in the tech space over the past few years: TechCrunch or print media?
What if you asked the same question but combined all of print media together? I think we’d still win.
Information. It’s all that matters.
I’ve been contacted about a number of jobs over the past few years that would see me doing exactly what I have been doing but in print form. Would that magically transform me from a blogger into a journalist?
What a silly question. And a sillier notion.