Are bloggers influencers, journalists or both? Does it matter?

Bloggers are gaining power all over the world; they have created their own communities and are excelling in different social media and networking media channels that in turn allow them to reach more and more people. This gain of status made bloggers a target for PR people to help promote different products/services/ideas.

Cartoon: If superman would blog. Thanks to @Boris.

Cartoon: If superman would blog. Thanks to @Boris.

A recent survey by PR agency Text 100  claimed that the majority of bloggers prefer to be treated as influencers rather than as journalists. While I don’t see the contradiction here – one doesn’t negate the other – I do understand why bloggers favor the influencing label. It implies power and spare them the hectic and liability that comes for being a journalist. But, I can also see why journalists as well aspire to becoming influencers. It is a privilege to be able to affect people in a way or another.

But who is really a blogger and who is a journalist? More journalists are having blogs of their own, and more bloggers – through their blogs – end up working as journalists for established newspapers/magazines. There are also people like Danny Sullivan, who is a self identified journalist who uses his blog as his publishing platform. Is it about publishing platforms? or about the way of writing and level of credibility?

We all know that journalism is a tough job. It is about trying to get it right every single time. There is a level of liability that defines being a journalist which is much higher than the one set for an average blogger. After all, a journalist usually represents, besides himself, an entire organization which has a unique image, policy and character to uphold!

That brings us to the question of: Being an influencing voice, how ethical it is for a blogger to get paid in order to post information? Some bloggers seek out some financial gain out of their own blogs, others need the money in order to support their blogging, but is this justified? Should every blogger mention clearly to his readers that he is getting paid to post specific information?

One aspect of blogging that people relate to the most is the personal and emotional take on things. It may not match the credibility of journalism, but it does catch our attention and stir our emotions. Yet, there are many things that blogger can learn from journalists in order to raise the level of their blog credibility and improve their blogging skills.

I like what Andrew Lih, an editor/administrator at Wikipedia, said about journalism: “To the prospective journalist: there is no better place to start researching a story than Wikipedia, and probably no worse place to stop and use as a final word.” – although Google seems to disagree.

Whether it is a joke, a fabricated story, a fairy tail, or a comprehensive coverage of a story, people like what they like. They want variety, and many opinions to pick which one makes the most sense. Social media and blog comments all allow readers to say their opinions aloud. So, if an article is pure rubbish, people will end up giving corrections, or mocking the writer/blog. So, does it really matter if you identify yourself to be a journalist or an influencer? Or maybe just a blogger with no other tags? What do you think?

Comments and Reactions

  • Kevin Muldoon

    Good post.

    I don't think that being a journalist and being influential is mutually exclusive. It depends on the type of journalism.

    If a journalists job is just to report the latest news on the subject then they will probably not influence that many people as they are just reporting facts and figures. Though many do give their own opinion as well. And in that case, whether they are a good writer or not is irrelevant as their views will be influential due to the traffic their website receives.

    With regards to be being paid for blogging, it really depends on the situation. Blatant advertisments should be marked as such though I think the problem arises when there is a conflict of interests. Would you give an advertiser a negative review if they are one of your regular advertisers and help you make a living?

  • FadiPick

    Thanks Kevin, I would definatly go for advertisers that I feel comfortable about their products/services, but if it wasn't the case, and I really needed their money, then I would place their banners and try to sneak out of having to review them. I know that if I did, my review would sound cold and empty. If it doesn't come from my heart, it would never catch anyone's attention – that is for sure.

  • Beiruta

    In my humble opinion, depending on the type of blogging the blogger does, bloggers can be journalists who simply did not study journalism or have the degree yet have the passion to investigate incidents, research topics and report about them in an artistic and creative manner.

    Good post Fadi :)

  • Doha

    I prefer to be called blogger without tags… But I think it depends on the type of blogging. IF the blogger simply lists news as is then he is a journalist and he will not influence anyone in that sense. On the other hand if he writes his own opinions and judgments and passes on hints and tips then he becomes an influencer.

    Also bloggers who write on their own personal life and what they did and do everyday are neither journalists nor influencers.

  • FadiPick

    hey doha, I agree people, bloggers differ, some do really take their blog as a form of journalism, others seek to build a fan base and influence people, and some are just doing it for their own personal satisfaction for different other reasons :)

  • FadiPick

    Thanks Beiruta, for sure, a blogger can be a journalist if he does it right :)

  • elainebiss

    I think bloggers influence others. I read this incredibly badly written article on copyright infringement by someone who had no business writing about the subject to begin with. To top it off, he gave bad advice that could potentially get people in trouble and his readers applauded him!

    Fantastic article though!

  • Gordon Rowland

    Thanks for an encouraging post Fadi.

    As I've said many times before, as an eco-aware landscape designer, I'd much rather become a powerful influence for good in my industry while making a decent living, in preference to making a fortune and remaining anonymous and uncommitted.

    I'll get the skids on and upgrade my ancient website to Web 2.0. I won't then need to find a traditional media outlet willing to allow me to expose the anti-environmental practices of the Australian nursery and garden industry.

    I write for several eco-journals and was the founding editor of a professional landscape design magazine, so I regard myself as an influencer and a journalist too.

  • FadiPick

    Hey Gordon, I guess it is the effect of our work is what motivates us the most. You are doing pretty neat job and are up to influence many others. Keep it up!

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