Over the years since this Internet thing started taking hold, there’s been a lot of debate over an important question: Are Bloggers Journalists?
Of course, the question seems more important to former journalists who are unable to find work than it does to most other people. Well, I know a few of those and the one point that I’ve heard a few times and sticks is that journalists are held to a set of professional standards that separates their work from what bloggers do by virtue of imposing external, reporting and editing chain of command accountability for the accuracy of what they write.
Merriam Webster is of no real help. They define journalist as one who reports “for a news medium” (this defends the old-school position), but also simply as “one who keeps a journal”, which does not, and one who “aims for a mass audience”, which can be argued either way. Dictionary.com helps a little more, suggesting that a journalist is one who is in the profession of journalism.
OK, so . . . aren’t bloggers who get paid to write journals or whose work as writers of journals gain them money even indirectly (cripes, like me?!) therefore journalists? I have no answer. And that’s the nature of business change; as formerly-clear issues evolve there’s going to be disagreement over what that evolution means.
This weekend, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt addressed the American Society of News Editors and told them that he thinks bloggers aren’t journalists. Yesterday, Curt Hopkins, a writer at ReadWriteWeb, reacted angrily. Mr. Hopkins, a guy with a long pedigree as a “real” journalist, overstepped and in doing so perhaps undermined his own point; Mr. Schmidt never stated that people without print distribution channels were by definition not journalists. But the CEO of the world’s largest media company did some evil, and after Google’s decision a few days ago to start making size matter in search rankings I find myself wondering whether the only business change Google thinks is good is the one that doesn’t happen.
In other words, when the little guy becomes the big guy, does his perspective automatically change?
I guess the question ultimately really is about where you make your money. When Google was just a search engine and still looking for alliances with big established companies they would never have tried to define journalism narrowly. Now that Google is the big guy the rules have changed.
And that’s what business change is all about: you see the rules change, and you change your business to take advantage of it.
By the way: I don’t consider myself a journalist, but I reserve the right to change my mind.