Yesterday I had an interesting conversation with someone at a bar. His girlfriend works with the WSJ and a mutual friend introduced me as a blogger. What followed was an amusing conversation about whether bloggers are journalists or part of social media. Having this conversation 12 hours after someone saying that I am doing “marketing for Microsoft” since I closely follow the company has left me with an identity crisis and here are some observations:
- I believe bloggers with no academic background in journalism are not journalists.
- I believe bloggers are part of mainstream journalism as a field.
- Within the tech blogosphere, there’s a debate about whether bloggers are journalists.
- Outside the tech blogosphere, a blogger is considered as someone who is part of social media and PR campaigns.
- Apparently, journalists can have “beats” but bloggers can’t have a niche. (Then again, same people who think bloggers are part of PR wouldn’t know what “beat is.)
- Bloggers have a lot more freedom of text, even expression and speech, compared to journalists.
- Several times, I’ve heard journalists saying we report news without bias, their goal is report the truth. Well, so does Jon Stewart. If reporters are journalists, Jon Stewart is one of the best out there.
So as a blogger what do I do?
I write about strategies, I review products, I write how-to articles, I do first-look articles on software/web services. I cover M&A, latest news developments, I find patents that can become products. I am not sure how this falls into social media or PR, I will say that it is akin to investigative journalism. However, as a technology enthusiast, I use social media to interact and discuss my thoughts on all of the above with peers in the industry and fellow enthusiasts.
As someone who runs his own blog, I do SEO on my blog and know a bit about it that does not mean every blogger is an SEO expert. Similarly, because I spend time on social networks to find stories and discuss them doesn’t make me a social media expert. Over time we figure out efficient ways of using these networks to find information. Social media and PR professionals have a different set of qualities that make them amazing at what they do. They interact with customers and share information about their particular organizations. There’s a difference and it is a fine line. I call out Microsoft, Apple and Google when I think they are doing something I believe is wrong, PR folks can’t do that.
In a nut shell as someone once put it, because I have a lighter in my hand it doesn’t mean I’m a smoker.