FAQ: Why do you blog? And other questions

Here’s another collection of Q&As from a correspondent, published here to prevent repetition:

1. How do you feel about the opinions published in your blog being used by journalists in the news?

I’m not clear what you mean by this question, but broadly speaking if my opinions are properly attributed then I am fine with it.

2. Why do you blog?

I started blogging out of professional and creative curiosity – at that point it wasn’t an online journalism blog. I continued to blog largely because I started to feel part of a wider community – I particularly remember comments from Mindy McAdams and links from Martin Stabe. Now I blog for a combination of reasons: firstly, it is hugely educational to put something out there and receive other people’s insights; secondly, it leads to meetings and conversations with very interesting people I otherwise wouldn’t meet; thirdly, it’s a useful record for myself: forcing myself to articulate an idea in text means I can identify gaps and come back to it when I want to make the same point again.

3. Do you consider yourself a journalist when blogging in that you source news and broadcast it?

Yes. But how much I “source news” and how much I “broadcast” it are subject to further discussion.

4. What do you think about information put on social media websites, such as photos and personal details, being used in mainstream media?

I assume you mean without permission? I think there’s a lack of proper thought on both the part of the individual and the journalist. On a purely legal front, it’s breach of copyright, so media organisations and journalists are in the wrong. On an ethical front, journalists need to realise that a social network is not a publishing platform, but a conversational one. If someone puts information there it is often for an intended, personal, audience. The closest analogy is the pub conversation: it is being held in public, but if someone listens in and publishes what you’ve said to a much wider, different, audience, then that is unethical (public interest aside).

5. When blogging, are you aware that you are putting your opinions and thoughts out there for the world to see? Do you censor what you say because of this?

Yes. And yes. ‘Censor’ is probably the wrong word: I choose what I say; I generally don’t talk about my personal life or meetings which I assume are confidential.

6. Do you think a news piece sourced from blogs is as worthy as a piece sourced from investigative journalism?

To properly answer this I’d probably need lengthy definitions of what you mean by ‘worthy’, blogs, news, ‘sourced’ and investigative journalism. And even then I think to impose broad-brush distinctions like these is a flawed approach. A news piece sourced from blogs can be investigative; ‘investigative journalism’ can be ‘unworthy’. Judge each case on its own; don’t dismiss the value of something because of the packet it comes in.

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