Dean Esmay gives several examples of his own posts on his blog that he considers real journalismTM, prompting an interesting discussion in his comments section wherein it transpires that everyone pretty much agrees.

Dean adds a postscript,

By the way, how could anyone call what L.T. Smash does anything but journalism?

To which I respond, I think what L.T. Smash does is journalism in the literal sense of keeping a journal. Otherwise, it’s just one guy giving his bird’s eye view of the things he personally sees. It’s a diary, just like the blogs consisting mainly of people’s reactions to the television shows they watched last night or gossip with their friends, except that he’s in a more interesting locale. Indeed, “Smash” doesn’t claim to be more than this:

L.T. Smash is a reserve officer in the United States Military who has been recalled to active duty and deployed overseas in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. This website is an online journal of his adventures. It is meant primarily for the use of his family and friends, but all are welcome to visit.

He writes well and he provides interesting insights as to what’s happening over there. But it’s not the same thing as professional war coverage.

Update (1351): Reader OFJ points to an interesting discussion by Evan Coyne Maloney noting that bloggers are excellent fact checkers and editors, using the analogy of open source software. I don’t dispute any of this; I just note that editing isn’t the same as reporting. (And I’m an editor in my non-blogging capacity!)

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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. Ian S. says:

    And considering the unprofessional state of professional war coverage that’s a plus.

  2. Dean Esmay says:

    Well, for the record, when I give examples of “my own posts,” most of them are NOT, in fact, mine, but by people who submitted materials to my blog. Only one of them was actually my work.

    I’m still proud of ’em though. 🙂

  3. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Duly noted.

  4. O. F. Jay says:

    You know, James, your whole disucssion on Blogs vs. the Traditional Media begs a few questions:

    1. Should we actually try and squirm into whatever pigeonholes the traditional media has left us?
    2. Or should we examine, instead, the additive value of our punditry to the examination of traditional media outlets?

    Not all blogs can perform “real journalism” nor, I think, should they. As a supplement to “real journalism” blogs are quite… supreme, and on point. Should this character of blogging change, just so we can perform “real journalism?”

    First the resources needed to be a “real journalist” blogger are astounding, and it takes a lot of energy to be a one-man newsroom blogger. Right now the only one I can think of who fits this mold is Drudge.

    Oh well, if you haven’t read this and this, I hope you have time to. The first is an article on blogs and the other is my e-mail convo with the author.

  5. James Joyner says:


    No, I agree. I think punditry and, especially, calling attention to otherwise poorly publicized stories in mainstream journalistic outlets is quite valuable. I just think we ought not get carried away in the “Bloggers are replacing CNN” frenzy.

  6. O. F. Jay says:

    Bloggers are replacing CNN? Whoever thought of that? LOL! I know MY role in the media spectrum, who in the world is thinking otherwise?

  7. Jane Galt says:

    But there is a long tradition of journals and correspondance in newspapers — “Letters from. . . ” or “Washington Diary. . .” Are those, then, not real journalism?

  8. James Joyner says:


    As Don Sensing pointed out in the comments to a similar thread yesterday, trying to define journalism is like trying to nail Jello to a wall (not that I’m sure why anyone would try the latter).

    But a lot of things that appear in newspapers aren’t really journalism. If the plural of anecdote isn’t data, I’m not sure printing some rumors one heard at the bar is journalism.

  9. Paul says:

    Yesterday I offered what I thought was an interesting theory here where I asked if we could “report” by remote control. (So to speak)

    Apparently Reuters now writes story about what happenes in Virginia from the comfort of the home office in Britain.

    I plan on applying to Reuters next week. 😉