According to WordPress, one of the most popular blog sites available worldwide, over 409 million people view more than 17.6 billion blog pages each month. In other words: blogging is big business.
But, is blogging journalism’s business?
Take this blog for instance. Here I’ve written several posts about the world of journalism, including its debates, and new changes and technologies that surround it. Hopefully its been entertaining, written well, and gets you thinking critically about your views on journalism. But is that enough? Does that make it a professional journalism practice?
Anybody, any age, and from any place can start their own blog now, about literally anything. Music, fashion, make up, travel. You name it, you google it, it’s there. And these blog sites are free and easy to use too, meaning they’re accessible to anyone. So, these bloggers, like Twitter and Storify users, are they citizen journalists too? Where do we make the distinction between professional, topical and informative blogging, versus personal chatting that simply resembles the blabbering diary of an 11-year-old child?
Paul Bradshaw and Liisa Rohumaa, in their book The Online Journalism Handbook, Skills to Survive and Thrive in the Digital Age, tell us that a blog can be a platform for journalism if it contains the right content. They point us in the direction of G. Stuart Adam’s definition of journalism, which tells us that “Journalism is an invention or a form of expression used to report and comment in the public media on the events and ideas of the here and now”. This definition suggests, that if the blog content is an expression used to report or comment, in a published arena, in regards to topical events; its journalism.
And actually, why shouldn’t it be. Like citizen journalism, blogs help us share and connect the news to others.
Plus the use of blogs has positive outcomes for the news organisations too. Here I’ve summed up some of Bradshaw and Rohumaa’s thoughts on the benefits of blogging for journalists;
- Getting the story out there – Blogs allow news stories to be published quicker, and in fuller detail than news bulletins. Plus, they often direct their audience to other platforms of theirs to get further information on the story, such as images, video, audio and links.
- Getting the story noticed – A news organisation can get more visibility and a wider viewing public when they have a blog that will then be picked up by search engines such as Google, meaning overall they increase their audience. This is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- Sharing News – Blog sites and posts are often shared by other users, again increasing visibility and building the audience of news stories and news organisations.
- Sharing Views – Blogs are a great platform for getting audience views on a story through comments, and also for networking with fellow journalists and people in the industry.
- Curating Knowledge – Browsing other blogs can help journalists find other stories and sources, and helps to show how well informed they are on the news.
So, it’s clear to see, that there’s plenty of benefits to blogging, and it can be a huge advantage to news organisations and journalists too. And the content? Well, lots of topics are informative to lots of people. Maybe its golf, animals, or architecture – there’s magazines about these areas of interest, and they’re counted as journalism – so surely blogs on these areas can be counted as journalism too.
WordPress tells us that bloggers produce around 64.8 million new posts and 60.4 million new comments each month. That’s a lot of information right at our fingertips, and a lot of sharing of the news.