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Bloggers aren’t journalists

Two events this week bring to the forefront the depth of change in news and journalism.
First, TechCrunch received over 300 documents from an individual who had hacked into Twitter’s network. In an effort to draw attention to itself, TC released some of the documents. The information ranges from silly (projections of users) to somewhat serious (revenues). The resulting conversation has produced many questions (and here) about ethics. Should bloggers publish stolen information?

Second, Walter Cronkite passed away. He’s tag line – “that’s the way it is” (no, not Celine Dion)- suggests an era where we could know the right answer or hold the right perspective on a problem or situation. He has been called “the most trusted man in America”. In our fragmented media and news ecology today, it’s hard to imagine that anyone will ever gain that type of reputation/status. Too many voices. Too many perspectives. Too many media sources.

Back to the Twitter/techcrunch issue: Ultimately, the ethics and standards of formal journalism doesn’t apply to bloggers. TechCrunch is an interesting source of news and information. It is among the best in the field at what it does. But, I don’t call in journalism. It’s more a blend of gossip/insider information. Ethics are important, but as the conversation around the release of Twitter documents reveals, ethics are negotiated amongst bloggers. A definitive list as provided by a professional journalist organization doesn’t apply.


  1. Michael wrote:

    I believe saying bloggers aren’t journalists is incorrect. Rather it should be “most bloggers aren’t journalists.” Most bloggers don’t practice pure journalism; however, neither do “journalist” from newspapers and news channels. Most bloggers and “journalist” just re-report news and then add their opinion.

    In regards to what TechCrunch did I believe it was very unethical, and may end with a lawsuit. While it would be great if companies were that open with information; Twitter never wanted that information out. Many people are currently questioning twitter’s ability to create revenue, and the leaked info can be very damaging.

    Sunday, July 19, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  2. Geoff Cain wrote:

    I think we should remember that what we often “trusted” in our news was that it would maintain our comfort levels and not challenge our world views. Trusted news sources aided the invasion of the Philippines in the media-made Spanish American War and kept McCarthyism and Jim Crow rolling along for years. And look at how the Bush administration used and manipulated the press. I think the phrase “embedded journalist” is rich with meaning and ethical nuances that will come back and haunt us. The journalists that bring out the truth are often branded as radicals – think Watergate era here or those who reported on Guatemala and El Salvador in the 80s. I never really trusted the press to do much beyond sell soap. I think of bloggers in the same way that I think of the underground newspapers in the 60s and 70 or the ‘zines of the 80s and 90s. Too many Americans uncritically accept what they are given on CNN and distrust independent voices. Howard Rheingold (and others) are really on to something when they keep the conversation on critical thinking skills going. And yes, I will miss Uncle Walter too…

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink