Can Journalists also blog?

Continuing the discussion from Is it ethically okay for journalists to mine hacked Sony emails for stories?:

Separating this off into a different thread.

@PhasmaFelis @bwv812 @funruly @trace_stevens @PatrickD

Let’s continue here if we are to continue at all.

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Can bloggers also report on things and thus journalism create?


In what may prove to be a self-refuting act I would like to quibble with the notion that autism spectrum disorders necessarily interfere with discerning the nuances of language, or the enjoyment of slicing, dicing, and twiddling language elements(obviously the severe ones can and do, since those can go so far as to preclude language acquisition; but those people aren’t the ones you are likely to be arguing with on the internet).

Spoken communication is difficult, especially once you include all the body language and affect cues and subtexts and other cryptic monkey business; but written communication, wordplay, probing definitions for clarity and self-consistency, and similar things are some of life’s few pleasures, and very popular on this ‘spectrum’. Written language constructs and definitions are both delightful in their opportunities for playful intricacy and a bit of a relief in their capacity for the closest thing to rigor that natural language has on offer if you’ve had a bad day with people expecting you to pick up on their pointlessly subtle subtexts.

If anything, I’d be inclined to suspect that it is those with a keener sense for social phenomena that are cryptic or unavailable in a direct reading of the text that would be more likely to get worked up about ‘journalist’ vs. ‘blogger’ vs. ‘blogger who also does journalism’, vs. ‘journalist who also blogs’. (the alternative, which I can hardly stomach, is that it’s just adherents of the Cult of Journalistic Objectivity Through Vacuous Uselessness, so let’s not think about that).

If you treat the matter purely as a definitional question, there really isn’t too much to worry about. Can Journalists also barbeque?

The emotional salience, and affect-stirring feeling of potential transgressive mixing, comes in if you bring the values socially assigned(and sometimes contested) to ‘journalism’ and ‘blogging’ into the picture. Now it’s more along the lines of "Can Serious Writers of Objective Stuff Also Write Frivolous Personal Nonsense? Should we let them? Should we judge each activity separately? Treat one as a private vice to be politely ignored? Throw their tainted career into the gutter for it?

Unfortunately, because those affective investments are poorly represented in the usual definitions of ‘journalist’ and ‘blogger’ this results in a lot of talking past each other. The affective animus is there; but attempting to justify it on definitional lines is problematic; because the definitions are always slightly dry and lifeless, so you get a lot of weak definition cobbling motivated by affect that isn’t incorporated into the result.


Perhaps the assumed requirement for such a transgressive admixture of intent to fit those traditionally bounded definitions is the initial stumbling block to be overcome?

It seems that some acts of communication come pre-loaded with such stumbling blocks for purist detractors to become mired in.
The expectation of some to self identify with such stringent criticism may be deliberately programmed into such a shibboleth?

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Much of what is, for lack of a better word, reported here on BB is just this sort of pearl clutching nonsense. Of course, pearl clutching nonsense is itself a highly charged and dismissive term, and what one characterizes as such seems extremely subjective. It’s almost as dismissive and belittling a term as “disgruntled.”

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I think it’s more than “can the same person write professionally about Palestine and cats?” Most complaints about journalism on BoingBoing relate to misleading headlines and summaries of issues that are also reported in the news - the claim is usually that the principle mentioned in the main article is broken:

• Avoid distortion and instead ensure appropriate tone. This means watching your headlines, adjectives and all the other details that give a particular piece of information a certain tone. When you add flavor to information, it needs to be appropriate.

Where this principle is broken, I think the “it’s not real journalism” argument is pretty weak. Where information about key issues is shared in a way that encourages people to take a stance, there is some ethical obligation to accuracy of presentation. If the facts and an accurate summary of the background don’t get enough outrage, that’s too bad. If we’re going to go with the argument that misleading reporting is OK because it’s blogging, is it OK for a doctor to give unsubstantiated medical advice or a lawyer to give unresearched legal opinions, as long as it’s on a blog and not to a paying client? As far as I’m concerned, I do expect people (including commenters) to present information in a reasonably accurate way.

I’m not picking up on any specific posts or editors, just saying that I don’t think it’s reasonable to give anyone a pass on inaccuracy because “it’s just a blog”. This is doubly true when this claim is used to dismiss people who have opinions that aren’t in line with the headline’s perspective on the issue.

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Anybody recognise a pattern? :wink:

Calling someone out for using such a hyperbolic, dismissive, condescending and obviously loaded term as ‘abusing the truth’ is itself a highly charged and dismissive act? Nice one.

Also, you’re following a very well illuminated as of late, established pattern with your ‘criticism’ and guardianship of ‘the truth’, whatever, I suppose, you choose for that to mean, both in principal and in fact.

You claim all the cards but have no game.

You literally have an idea that they are journalists and nothing else with no nuances or complexities and do not think outside of that boundary for a moment in any attempt at synthesis.

Is it possible to change your mind on subjects with which you have made it up?

In order to parse the other ideas you’ve had to formulate it to yourself using your own bias, as other people thinking “it’s not real journalism”.
It’s not that other people are saying that, they are trying to understand those nuances of role and the integration of functionality that the web is entraining with humanity.

Both and neither, one or the other.

“Abusing the truth” is a pretty clear and objective accusation. If you wanted to ask where the truth has been abused, examples could probably be supplied. You could then argue that the truth has not been abused. I don’t think it’s an especially condescending accusation, nor is it particularly dismissive of the speaker. I don’t think Cory would ever accuse anyone of abusing the truth, for example, as he has much more colourful and charged language to use in such situations.

“Pearl-clutching nonsense” affords no such response. It has no objective meaning, other than to conjure up a specific mental image and denigrate people as fitting that image.

Care to illuminate that with specific examples, or is it just intended to be an inchoate and undefendable indictment of my pearl-clutching nonsense?

Insofar as ‘abusing the truth’ does and does not introduce questions of ownership of the concept, and a priestly devotion to fundamentalism; I would argue that the nuance in communication across this format, a blog, where you may read a joke, or journalism, and maybe on the same page, is a feature.
Not a bug.

Thoughts on clutching pearls. Metaphor, I thought, for an insincere concern and nonsense because any introduction of the idea of abusing the truth brings with it such deep philosophical questions, it’s hyperbolic in the extreme.

Better, if you want to make the criticism, and as you have rightly said, perhaps a critique of the actual fault, rather than such sweeping statements would be more helpful.

But then, it’s not that it’s your comment to defend, only my criticism of it.

I mean, I guess it’s a feature the same way hipster/ironic racism is a feature. Because I don’t think people are complaining about cat-wrapping videos appearing on the same page as political criticism and reportage: they’re objecting when serious political criticism and reporting abandons journalistic principles.

Hmm, given the environment here, even that ‘serious political criticism’ tends to be wrapped up in the kind of opinionated humour that could encourage criticism in those who are sensitive to traditional journalistic boundaries.

I’m not so sure that implies nothing but Gonzo or sensationalist Journalism, I’ve read plenty of straight Journo pieces here. But given the format, the framing allows a wide spectrum of synthesis. :smile:

Have fun discussing what people can or can’t do. The rest of us will be busy doing things.

As iron sharpens iron…


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That’s why I like this interwebs thingie… impossible to weld stationary :smile:

Single head high frequency pvc folder/file welding machine for making Stationery


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