Tuesday 22 January 2008

'Blog-journalism': New York Times gets to grips with a 'blogging' rival

The New York Times has written an article profiling Michael Yon, a blogger or independent journalist, who has written numerous dispatches from Iraq. His reports are funded by readers who donate money on his website.

In the article, Yon says he didn't know what a blogger was when he started writing and that he was not a journalist.

Now, after several years covering the Iraq war, Yon 'insists that he still does not really know the rules of journalism, but says he has recently, grudgingly, accepted that he has become a journalist.'

The New York Times isn't sure how to describe Yon or his work either:
  1. 'Like most bloggers...'
  2. '....such citizen journalism...'
  3. 'Internet journalist...'
  4. Eventually appearing to decide that: 'he created a niche outlet', 'better reported than most blogs', and 'more opinionated than most news reporting'. His work put many 'professional journalists to shame.'
I wonder when Yon decided he had become a journalist? Is there a noticeable difference between his early work and his later dispatches? Can you categorise some of his writing as 'blogging' and other bits as 'journalism'?

It all suggests that blogging is more than merely a new platform for information. There appears to be some sort of identity associated with being a blogger and a different one for the journalist. Similarly, journalism is cast as being different from blogging and Michael Yon's work as somewhere in between the two.

The relationship between blogging and journalism is being formed by individuals like Yon and articles like these. Blogging is not usually journalism but it can be. And if a blog becomes recognised as journalism, does it cease to be blogging?

Perhaps there is a category of writing that sits between blogging and journalism - a sort of 'blog-journalism' - more opinionated and argumentative than most news journalism, but more factually reliable, better-researched, and generally more relevant (in a news sense) than many blogs.

The New York Times article can be found here.


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