Are bloggers journalists? BoraZ nails this slippery thang to the floor

Bora, in his post announcing his departure from ScienceBlogs, hits the nail on the head:

We here at Scienceblogs, by virtue of moving from our individual blogs to the network, have largely left the realm of “distributed by individuals to each other”. We are the Media. Which means we need to be aware of it, and behave accordingly. This does not mean we have to change anything about our blogging. After all, we were picked and hired in the hope we would continue to do exactly what we were doing with our blogs before the move to Sb. But the same picture of a cat posted on WordPress just for fun, as a hobby, becomes News once posted on Gotta keep that in mind at all times.

We have built an enormous reputation, and we need to keep guarding it every single day. Which is why the blurring of lines between us who are hired and paid to write (due to our own qualities and expertise which we earned), and those who are paying to have their material published here is deeply unethical. Scientists and journalists share some common ethical principles: transparency, authenticity and truth-telling. These ethical principles were breached. This ruins our reputation, undermines our work, and makes it more unpalatable for good blogger to consider joining Sb in the future. See also Jennifer’s post on this issue for a clear-headed take.

[From A Blog Around The Clock]

As Bora notes, “Gotta keep this in mind at all times.” In the discussion of PepsiGate, quite a few have argued that as ScienceBloggers don’t necessarily think of themselves as journalists, they perhaps need not be as concerned about harm done by breaches in the advertising/editorial wall. This particular section of Bora’s post (his full section is longer, do go see it) articulates well just why such breaches at a site like SB are important. It’s not only because Google News indexes the site. It’s because the group credibility, and the media trappings of the site, if you will — its imprimatur, its ownership by a media group, the authority implicitly given the bloggers because of the relatively elite, select company they’re in — all convey that this is a sort of journalist venture: a collection of writings in which people speak for themselves, and not on behalf of a third party.

Note: later same day that Bora left, PalMD, whose initial alarm first drew my attention and led to my quick departure, said goodbye to ScienceBlogs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *