Kevin Aylward provides several anecdotal examples (via links) that bloggers are becoming, en masse anyway, “real journalists.” Particularly instructive is Dean Esmay’s long post on the matter.

I’m still not sold. I think that there are a handful of weblogs out there that have sufficient readership to be considered truly important. A much larger, but still relatively small, fraction of the blogosphere consists of solid writing and analysis that’s better than all but the best political writing in the “real” media. But a much larger percentage of what’s written on blogs is sheer and utter crap.

Even for a small time paper, someone has to hire you. Anyone can sign on to Blogger to get a free account and start writing ungrammatical, uninformed nonsense.

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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. Kristopher says:

    Are you speaking of any particular crap?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Just the vast majority of blogs out there:) Nothing on my blogroll, of course, which has been carefully selected by the OTB editorial board.

    But most blogs are still illiterate postings from not-so-informed individuals. The very successful bloggers tend to be law professors, journalists, and others who are either professional writers or professional thinkers in some form or fashion. But they’re a tiny minority of the whole.

  3. Kristopher says:

    I agree that it all depends on what you consider the blogosphere. If you start narrowing it to those who participate on a daily basis, the picture brightens.

    You are correct in saying that anyone can start a blog, but I think there are an increasing number that are becoming real commentators or columnists, if not journalists.

  4. Paul says:

    Kevin Aylward provides several anecdotal examples (via links) that bloggers are becoming, en masse anyway, “real journalists.” …

    …I’m still not sold. I think that there are a handful of weblogs out there that have sufficient readership to be considered truly important.


    There are more cockroaches than humans.
    Quanitity does not denote a higher life form. 😉


  5. Kevin Drum says:

    Blogs may be (or may become) influential, but Dean is mistaken. The point of newspapers (and TV, radio, etc.) is that they do reporting. They actually dig up facts.

    Sure, there are lots of crappy blogs, but there are lots and lots of crappy little small town newspapers too. However, they still report. Reporting is the backbone of the news industry, not aggregating or analysis.

    Until blogs start reporting en masse, they aren’t even close to being real journalists. To think otherwise is just to fool yourself.

    (Besides, why the journalism envy that’s so rampant in the blogosphere? Blogging is just a different thing, not a better or worse thing.)

  6. Paul says:


    But could it be said we are entering a new era of journalism? (follow me)

    Indeed for “traditional” reportage to happen you must be geographically in the location of the news. Now however, we can dig up facts with this tool called the internet. And an argument could be made that it is more relieable.

    Today you have a guy (reporter) in one block of Baghdad where there is no electricity. He writes a story saying the situation in Iraq is a mess because people don’t have electricity. He has just reported the condition of an entire country based on 1 city block. Later we get a report from an NGO or a U.S. agency of some sort, that 75% of the country has power most of the day and that another 20% has power 12 hours or more in the day. (real example)

    Which is more a more accurate picture of the situation?

    Reporters “digging up fact” in Baghdad told us countless stories that were just not true. I’ll point to Baghdad museum as a case in point. I “reported” in my mailblog things that were FAR more accurate than any single report from a “reporter” for months.

    So how does this change journalism? Well, in the Baghdad Museum case I had the ability to read 10 stories a day everyday and look for inconsistencies. So while the “reporter” on the ground was “digging up facts” so was I. I was gathering quotes from people that did not support the myth. (granted the quotes were second hand in some cases.)

    If you think about it, almost all of the news today is from people’s quotes. A large majority of those quotes today are broadcast live on the cable news networks. Why can’t I be the reporter from my bedroom? If you read the WaPo many of the articles are just overviews of a press conference. The WaPo reporter was sitting in a chair in the Pentagon or White House and saw it live. I saw it via FOXnews live. Does that mean they heard it better than I did? Heck, I have a VCR at my disposal.

    So to try to put a point on these random thoughts…

    Today the abundance of facts and the speed at which they travel is so phenomenal an argument could be made that the sorting thru the facts and getting the story right is much harder than digging up raw facts.

    If that is the case, then a person (like me) with 4 different T.V. news stations on at once and an addiction to google news can be the better journalist.

    In broadcast journalism, much of the legwork is delegated to producers. But the face on the T.V. is the “journalist.”

    Could it be said, that in the new era of journalism, much of the legwork is delegated to the “network and dread tree drones” and that the journalist is the person who takes all their facts and makes the story accurate and understandable for the masses?

    Think about it.


    Not sure I agree with the above arguments, but they are valid.

  7. I wrote a pretty detailed look at what is a journalist on my site last February, after I got ambushed on a live radio interview.

    The radio hostess and host took offense at my blog specifically because I am “not a journalist.” (Actually, I have a diploma from an accredited school of journalism, but they didn’t know that.)

    As it turns out, defining what is a journalist is like nailing jello to a tree. Read all about it here.