I’m a Blogger, and That’s OK.

When I went up to pick up my press pass at HR Technology this year, I was told, instead, that I had been issued a blogger badge. This makes sense, since, well, I run a blog, but thought that the distinction between press and blogger was interesting. This argument, of course, has been going on since newsrooms started shutting down a few years ago and more and more publications turned to online content for revenue creation. But the fact that it’s still going on fascinates me.

I really think that the fundamental difference between the two lies in the expectation of objectivity, and for that purpose, I’ll choose blogging every time.

Press, traditionally, have kept op-eds as a distinct section with the implicit understanding that editorials aren’t actually part of the newspaper’s editorial – which is generally governed, from a standards practice at least, by an ombudsman serving as the primary objective liaison between the public and press. But blogging has no similar checks and balances. Instead, you get to play Judge Dredd – judge, jury, and, in the case of the bloggers who don’t suck, executioner.

Simply put, the press works to report in the third person – and while bloggers might, indeed, get treated as second class citizens, I get to write in the first person. A blogger has no expectations of unbiased reporting, because bias is inherent to the medium. A blogger doesn’t have an editorial calendar, nor do we have an editor; we have an agenda, and good ones own it.

My agenda is pretty simple: not to have one. That’s why, one of the most interesting pieces of feedback I always get is that I “tell it like it is.” That shouldn’t be a competitive differentiator – that should be an expectation.

I think that a fundamental responsibility for either bloggers or press should be exactly that – one is true to fact, the other to feeling, but no one form is more valid than the other.

Different mediums demand different messages, but differentiation in both relies on producing the content that you’ve implicitly promised your audience you’re going to deliver. This self-indulgent, self-reflexive, spontaneous kind of crap won’t fly at a place that’s positioned as press, but all I have to do to publish is hit a button.

Which is probably why I’m always in trouble for the shit I say.  But it’s also why bloggers have more fun than press, analysts or any other one of us trading content for cash – good work if you can get it.

6 Comments on “I’m a Blogger, and That’s OK.”

  1. One distinction you fail to mention, Matt, is that some bloggers sell their POV and even their blogs to vendors. If a reporter did that, s/he would be fired. The blogger just pockets the check and moves on to the next one with no moral compass or standards. Only some.

    • Bill: Amen. Although, I wish someone would pay me for my POV, but thing is, I can tell you from experience that being true to that view is in no way monetizable. And I like it that way, because I don’t have to deliver anything but what I think. Thanks for years setting an awesome example of what best practices in blogging actually look like. I’ve learned a lot from you.

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