Can bloggers be considered ‘real’ journalists?

In the film “Contagion”  that hit theaters in early September of this year, actor Jude Law plays a freelance journalist who communicates his views via writing and videos on his blog. The film is about the outbreak of a newly discovered virus that spreads at a rapid rate, leaving the world in a panic. Law’s character begins to publicly question the actions and information being released by the government and urges citizens to not take what they hear at face value. He investigates further on his own into the virus itself and alternative treatments while constantly having to defend himself as a reliable source and credible journalist.

The clip below shows Law approaching a biological researcher who is studying the virus. Watch how Law’s character has to fight for a quote and is not seen as a ‘real’ journalist by the researcher.

Video provided by HitFix.com via YouTube.

This question has been raised before and will probably still be a topic of discussion the more casual media like Twitter become the new shorthand news outlets.

While Law’s character is a questionable reporter and source of news in the film, he represents an interesting debate in journalism. Can bloggers be considered ‘real’ journalists? There are popular news outlets with bigger agendas than that of a civilian blogger, so who’s to say what is considered journalism and what’s not?

I think the blog world is one that dances on the line between news and opinion. A lot of bloggers, like Law’s character are interested in expanding the conversation beyond the government and official news outlets in order to keep the freedom of speech alive. This is vital in the evolution of technology and the sharing of information and thoughts through the internet.

My opinion is that blogs play a key role in diversifying the kind of information and the presentation of information out there. Blogs can be iffy in some cases when it comes to accuracy and quality of content, but as long as people understand the purpose of blogs and their limitations, I think there is room for the blogging community to have a hand in some journalistic aspects.

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3 responses to “Can bloggers be considered ‘real’ journalists?

  1. I am going to take the obvious approach and compare bloggers to editorial staff writers. That is what they are to me. I think that they are necessary as these writers obviously have followers and focus their story on what their audience wants. There are some very successful blogs that have hundreds of thousands of views each day, and this can help drive media’s attention to specific issues. However, on the other hand, bloggers do not have to follow the same strict rules and ethic codes that journalists do, so I do have to do more filtering of information from blogs compared to the amount of filtering I must do when reading news stories from well known media outlets.

  2. I’ve struggled with this question. I used to swear off blogging as real journalism, but in the last year, I’ve had a change of heart. If a blogger is doing actual reporting, then it’s definitely journalism; however, if most of the content is regurgitated from other outlets and unoriginal–or just a personal online diary–it can’t be counted as such. There’s still a lot of gray area with a lot of it being so opinion-based. It can be helpful, especially for aspiring journalists. It keeps us writing and shows our talents to prospective employers.

  3. I agree with you both. I think blogging is definitely a tool that can be used and misused. The change that I am seeing now is that a lot of credible sites that people receive their information from, started out as blogs. We will see how this pans out and whether or not we will all be considered ‘bloggers’ in the future.

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