Bloggers Just Writers with a Cooler Name

Simon Dumenco has had an epiphany shared by many:

I’ve been thinking of what I am — about what any media person in the digital age is — since having coffee last week with a 30-something newspaper editor who bemoaned the fact that newspapers keep on setting up blogs as these separate, exotic add-ons to their Web sites, instead of integrating blogging into their usual newsgathering operations. There’s simply no good reason to segregate the functions, he insisted.

And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder. It’s just software, people! The underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same.

Media Bloggers Association founder Robert Cox made that observation last February entitled, “Why ‘Blogging’ Sucks.”

No, not “blogging”. You know, “BLOGGING”. I mean the word “blogger” or “blogging”. It’s meaningless. Saying “bloggers are x or y” is equally meaningless. Someone claiming to speak for bloggers is more than meaningless it is delusional. Treating “bloggers” as a group, a species, a breed, or anything else is meaningless. As I noted previously, the word “blogger” is an empty vessel into which too many, pour too much, in order to mean too little.

So-called “bloggers” are just “writers”. I am a writer. You might think I am a bad writer, or even a terrible writer. My wife thinks I am a good writer but she may not be entirely objective. Sometimes when I write I use simplified content-management software often referred to as “blogware”. I wrote a draft of this post on a legal pad. I am now typing my draft into Microsoft Word to edit my post and spell-check it. Later I will copy and paste the text into Movable Type and publish it on my web site, During this process am I also a “paperer”? or a “Worder”? If I print my Word document and fax it to Timbuktu am I a “faxer”. Why then, when my writing appears on my web site, am I a “blogger”. Since when does the tool I use to express my thoughts define me? To quote the always articulate Oliver Willis, “that’s stupid”.

Ironically, Dumenco’s piece is entitled, “A BLOGGER IS JUST A WRITER WITH A COOLER NAME.” As Cox details in his piece and many other bloggers writers who happen to use weblogging software have noted, “blogger” is anything but a cool name.

Aside from the semantic issue, though, both Dumenco and Cox make some excellent points in their pieces about how blogging and traditional media intersect.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    And both make huge mistakes in oversimplifying the actual act of “blogging” to just software. Sure, they are “writers,” but I’d bet they also call themselves “journalists,” and if they write a long work of fiction, do they still call themselves writers? Pshaw, then they call themselves “novelists.”

    The fact is, “blogger” has a negative connotation in the minds of media elites, sort of like “citizen journalist.”

    The effort to be sly and divert away from the name is doomed to failure and represents a subconcious shame at what “blogging” is.

  2. Jim Durbin says:

    Bloggers are much different than writers. A full-fledged blogger is part of an online community and utilizes blogging tools to filter informaton.

    That is the essence of blogging – it’s the blogosphere that is important, not one particular blog.

    Just like one particular writer is not that influential, but a newspaper, or the media in general, is definitely influential.