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Write and wrong. . .

Bloggers are journalists now?

. . . and the apparently thin line between journalists and bloggers

April 14, 2013 11:09 by

At Kipp headquarters, we occasionally find ourselves embroiled in relatively heated discussions. A particular subject we frequently revisit is that of the ‘blogger’ persuasion. More specifically, we discuss the seemingly growing trend of brands prioritising bloggers over members of the media.

Why talk about it again, you ask? Well, it’s simple.

Last week, a certain brand in Dubai was excited about unveiling a new product and decided to adopt the evidently ‘trendy’ strategy of almost exclusively targeting ‘influential bloggers’ and other active members of the social media community. Why? To create buzz.

“That’s their strategy Kipp, if they want to invite bloggers, what’s to stop them from doing so,” we were told. Well, that would be all well and good, except for the fact that the media – you know, those that do it for a living – were essentially left out of it. Apparently, this brand will be holding an event for us two weeks later. You see, it’s not the strategy that upsets me, it’s the chronological order.

At this point, you may have already started to silently (or perhaps not so silently) label me as a ‘sour journalist’ that wasn’t invited to the party. Well, the truth is, attending events, conferences and even press trips is nothing more than work. Ask any journalist that attends 14 conferences a week and they’ll tell you it’s just another day at the office – there is no glamour – and certainly no intent to hunt for ‘goodies’.

Now, everyone has their own personal and professional views on bloggers – but the question of whether ‘bloggers are journalists’ still lives on. When speaking about our ‘digital counterparts’, marketers often use phrases like ‘influential following’ and ‘active’ social media presence to entice the brands they work endlessly to promote. It’s hard to really quantify what ‘influential’ means in this context, but I won’t digress.

What was astonishing for Kipp to hear was that ‘a blogger is a type of journalist’ because – aside from having studied, been trained and actually hired for the job – we apparently deliver the same quality of results. Really? In 2010, both PRWeek and PRNewswire teamed up on a study and discovered that 52 per cent of bloggers considered themselves to be journalists – and in essence felt entitled to everything that came with the package.

Kipp isn’t too surprised at this statistic, but we’re really unsure of who to blame.

Have brands really begun to believe that the media would be willing to trail behind bloggers; having to quote them when writing about something they’d been introduced to or told about before we were? Well, I can’t speak for fellow journalists, but one thing’s for sure – I have no intention of eating scraps off the floor.

Share your thoughts.

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  1. Kellie Whitehead on April 15, 2013 12:40 pm

    Okay – a few things here, because it cuts both ways, and I feel strongly about this from BOTH sides of the fence. I am a qualified, published writer/journalist with 14 years experience, but over the years have worked mostly on commercial copy and now write for my own website.
    This in itself has has lumped me as a’blogger’ at times.
    I have quite a large social media following personally, uncultivated and organic, but again, has attracted some attention from brands in the past.
    Brands obsession with online and ‘influencing’ is fine, if they treat the phenomena strategically and not as part of some passing fad.
    Most ‘influencers’ are very much self proclaimed. Their readers are very low and it’s all about setting up a blog and having the foresight to add yourself to Cision.
    There are also many really, really good writers out there blogging, who get less attention because they are not interested in self promoting.
    There are also some really, really bad writers out there who have paid day jobs writing for newspapers, magazines and websites.
    Let us judge all on the quality of the output whomever they are, and wherever they publish.
    Let brands be more aware of how associations can damage or dilute their heritage as much as the quick thrill of a cheap tweet might enthral their inexperienced PR’s…

    Oh, and PR’s.. whilst courting online publications for client coverage, why not then include said coverage within your ‘In the press’ Facebook albums ? Unless of course it’s just about bumping up the client report and ‘doesn’t really matter’….

    Remember that some sites get far more eyes than many printed magazines in the UAE, with non audited sales & readership…

  2. Elaine_B on April 15, 2013 1:34 pm

    My biggest problem with this, is that bloggers are not obliged to be independent. And very few are. As a journo, my job is to objectively report the news – bloggers are not held to the same standard, and don’t report to the same standard. Nor do they face the same consequences as we do if we get it wrong, or are seen to be biased. I’m not suggesting all outlets produce perfectly objective content – but it is at least the aim. That’s not the case with bloggers. Personally, I think half the appeal for companies is that it’s a softer audience – it’s easier to ‘buy’ bloggers, because there’s no editor leaning over their shoulder or subs desk to rip their copy apart. And lets be clear – there are very few bloggers outside of the fashion/gossip sphere that have the same reach as a respected publication does.

  3. M. Aldalou on April 15, 2013 2:34 pm

    Hi Elaine,

    Honestly, I’m quite grateful for your comment because I was starting to feel that I was the only one in the city to feel this way. That is a very good point you’ve made;it isn’t necessarily just about quality of writing, who’s the better writer and who is more talented. It’s a question of a journalist having editors behind him/her, a company and hence, a bigger scheme behind it. Whereas, for the most part, writing a blog is like writing one long tweet. Some may write well and try to be accurate to the best of their ability bu they have no actual consequences like we do.

    Thanks for reading and I appreciate your contribution.

  4. […] this interesting post on debating the merits of bloggers vs journalists at events. For some it may be a fad but as an […]

  5. M. Aldalou on April 16, 2013 9:56 am

    It’s a good post Mita, but when you say bloggers are independent that can – and usually does – go both ways. They’re independent of an editor and have their own self-imposed ethics but how can we trust, measure or even rely on self-imposed ethics while journalists have no choice (and have studied, trained and dedicated their careers to) but to follow guidelines, scrutiny and ethics.

    Bloggers are easier and independent the same way birds in the sky are – but that doesn’t make them reliable. Trained falcons and hawks, they’re the reliable ones.


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