To the journalists out there – thanks from a blogger

This is a cross-post from homo economicus by John Sargeant

Engel said that just because someone knows how to use Twitter does not make them necessarily a journalist.

“We’re all bloggers and punks and rebels with cameras. There is absolutely no respect for career journalists anymore,” he said. [CBC News]

One distinction between a blogger and a journalist is the news gathering of the latter over the opinion on the publicised news of the blogger. The journalist is a paid professional with training in media, the other usually unpaid with a particular interest or perhaps a qualification in the field they talk about but no training beyond getting to grips with formatting a blog.

Yet there is a cross over. Some journalists run a blog to promote their work in one place or talk more freely than perhaps published journalism would let them.

In some ways us bloggers are parasites feeding off the labours of others then giving our spin on it to suit either our opinions or those that may follow us – in under 800 words. How we do this is not governed by any particular media code of ethics. There is no “off the record” or established protocol in how a blogger goes about their scribbles. We have no editors or legal departments to advise us or improve our copy. Frankly we sometimes learn by trial and error – and the law does not necessarily give a blogger the same privileges a journalist can claim when covering a story.

We do filter the news. If you follow this blog there is a good chance that is because I cover secular, atheist and religious stories – other things too, but those are my principal interests. What I try to do when covering a story is see if something is being left out in the mainstream media – or I have a genuine interest and something new to say.

Bloggers should not compare themselves to the news gatherers – let alone those on the front line. In the article cited above the author states that over 600 journalists have been killed in the past decade. 90% of the journalists slain have yet to have the perpetrators brought to justice.

Which makes what I write very opinionated yet safe in comparison. I know that my mother worries that I do not hide behind a pseudonym when criticising religion. I assure her that free speech gives me the right to speak and that even those that disagree uphold that right in my experience.

I know others are not so fortunate. That they become targets either because of their background, or where they live. For example the atheist bloggers in Bangladesh still facing blasphemy charges. Or good friends at the Council of Ex Muslims Forum who have to use pseudonyms for genuine fear of reprisals, in case they are outed as apostates.

Hopefully us bloggers on sofas will be ever grateful for those that risk life and limb to get the news to us, and for the liberties we have to write what we do.

The photo above comes from this post here which shows journalists are seen in anything but a good light by members of the public.