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Frequently Asked Question: Is Blogging Journalism

A student wrote to ask “whether blogs are a valid form of journalism.” I replied:

An equivalent question would be: Is publishing on paper a valid form of

Blogging is simply a publishing method — a website.

Some blogs are clearly journalism. Most are not. The bloggers who are doing
journalism are for the most part following standard journalistic principles
such as thoroughness, accuracy, fairness and independence as well as

13 Comments on “Frequently Asked Question: Is Blogging Journalism”

  1. #1 Edwin
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 11:04 am

    A brilliant answer, i’d say 🙂

  2. #2 Bob Jones
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    One important thing missed out is periodicity. It helps the reader to know when the newspaper is coming out!

    Most blogs start off by trying to be daily, and fade off, when the blogger has too many other commitments. Better surely to decide whether you a daily blogger, a weekly blogger, or a monthly blogger.

  3. #3 Bob Jones
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    Wouldbe blogging journalists should have respect for the accepted journalistic conventions, but surely the important thing is that blogging is causing mainstream journalism to re-think those conventions. And that this is very healthy.

    The world has need for alternatives to mainstream journalism, because the media is dominated by commercial imperatives.

    My growing feeling since I started my own blog at is that the blogging journalist should be following his own personal imperatives. This I am attempting to do. And it changes week by week.

  4. #4 Bob Jones
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    One vital thing missed out is what journalism teachers teach their students first is that journalists are writing for the readers. Thus, you use short Anglo-saxon words if you are writing for The Sun and longer Latin-based words if you are writing for The Times.

    In terms of politics what you write is different if you are writing for The Daily Telegraph than if you are writing for The Guardian. Both newspapers give some space to all policitical opinions. But the journalist needs to know whether he is writing for the converted or for those likely to have opposite opinions.

    On the religion it is even more difficult. When I started out in journalism, journalists were advised to avoid religion because most readers were Christian and the newspaper owners did not want to lose readers by offending them. Today The Guardian is determinedly secular, belief in God is regarded as irrational.

  5. #5 Bob Jones
    on Dec 7th, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    Another thing missed out is word length. In journalism brevity is all. The trend over the last fifty years has been towards shorter and shorter articles in the British press. Even in The Guardian, which has not gone tabloid, the feature is usually about one thousand words, as against about 2,500 words in my youth.

    Blogging journalism started off with very short articles. But today word length varies enormously. Look at Ruth Gledhill’s blog in The Times. He record is 18,000 words, and it is a very popular blog.

  6. #6 Robin Hamman
    on Dec 8th, 2006 at 4:22 am

    Good response Dan. I spotted this post a few minutes after I responded to a similar, possibly the same, email from a student. In response to the final of the three questions, whether I felt everyone could be a reporter, I said:

    “I don’t think it matters what we call it – everyone can tell a story and that, surely, is the point whether you call it journalism, reporting, storytelling, teaching, informing or blogging.”

    More at

  7. #7 Martin Stabe » Is blogging a valid form of journalism?
    on Dec 8th, 2006 at 6:13 am

    […] As does Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media: An equivalent question would be: Is publishing on paper a valid form of journalism? […]

  8. #8 steven
    on Dec 8th, 2006 at 10:48 am

    I still can’t believe we’re still asking that question.

  9. #9 Domen Savic
    on Dec 9th, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    I agree with steven and Dan. Question is semi-irrelevant.

    Blogging can be journalism, depending on the blogger`s attitude towards blogging. Blog as it is is nothing more as a tool for…anything the person holding it desires. And as Bob already noticed…journalism is changing because of blogs and is taking them into the account.

    However, I disagree with other points made by Bob. Newspaper articles are getting shorter and shorter because of the speed of information. Newspapers write less and less in order to be on par with current events. Bloggers however, can tell a story about an event within a few seconds of the event happening. They can updated it whenever they want. RSS and similar tools are helping them do that. Why do you think televisions “invented” breaking news? Cause not all newsworthy events are announced.

    In short…in the blogging “business” usage defines tool. And not the other way around.

  10. #10 Seth Finkelstein
    on Dec 9th, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    I think it’s helpful to consider that the question might arise from confusion over the many conflicting usages of “blogs”.

    Is writing your diary a valid form of journalism?

    No. Nobody cares what you ate for lunch today. Don’t be mistaken that some subcultural celebrities think having groupies makes it significant. Some essayists can write good material using the format of daily life, but that’s craft masquerading as casualness.

    Is bloviating about the news a valid form of journalism?

    Not really. If you have something of deep significance to say, it might be so, in terms of analysis. But opinions are like noses, everybody has one.

    Is being partisan a valid form of journalism?

    Sometimes. Journalism isn’t the same as the American concept of stenography to those in power. It’s not required to relay every lie without comment. On the other hand, political hackery is not authenticity (although it may be profitability).

    Is independent self-publishing a valid form of journalism?

    Yes. But you’d better have some sort of way of getting readership, otherwise nobody will hear you.


  11. #11 Phil Gomes
    on Dec 11th, 2006 at 4:29 pm

    Bravo. I continue to be surprised that the is-blogging-journalism non-debate continues to pop up. For the first time in publishing history, it would seem, people have trouble divorcing the publishing mechanism from the intent of the user of that mechanism.

    I keep wondering if there were ever debates like “is-the-gutenberg-press journalism” or “is-the-reed-etched-clay-tablet journalism.”

  12. #12 Andy » Blog Archive » Medium specific
    on Dec 12th, 2006 at 3:57 am

    […] The question had got around to a number of the online journalism fraternity, including Dan Gilmour. His answer: An equivalent question would be: Is publishing on paper a valid form of journalism? […]

  13. #13 John Gorenfeld’s blog » Blog Archive » OMG, is it journalism?
    on Dec 14th, 2006 at 10:19 am

    […] And it just won’t stop. Somebody, please. […]