The Art of Journalism
What is journalism, exactly and what makes it journalism? Literally, journalism is the process of gathering information, processing it into something meaningful and informative, and circulating it to the general public through various media platforms. Information gathered and published addresses public affairs and broader forms of expression that would be considered of-interest to a general population.
The term, journalism, can both refer to the method of gathering and inquiring for the information as well the literary style the information is written in.
Traditionally, journalism served the purpose of distributing information based on fact alone. The digital era, however, has altered the role journalism and its distribution to the general public, presenting not only the information within the the source, but perspective and public reaction. The digital era allows for news to appear more instantaneously and reaches a wider audience world wide, allowing viewers to gain access to more angles to the story and gain more perspective, making news more than one-sided.
And Then Came the Weblog
With the emergence and evolution of the world wide web came the introduction and evolution of the weblog and how journalism interacts with the general public.
Weblogs began originally as online diaries, a running account of the personal lives of the writers, including what they were doing, their thoughts on particular matters, and thoughts and reactions on particular of-interest matters in the media. At the time, they weren’t known as weblogs, but were personal websites that individuals would express themselves and their interests. Through these online diaries, there was a new power behind people, a voice that could be heard.
Online diaries shifted to news based weblogs, which combined a mixture of the writer’s personal life and reactions along with manually updated components of common websites, drawing particular attention to obscure news sources that may not necessary reflect the agenda or spin portrayed in mainstream media. The purpose? Many early weblogs were aimed towards individuals to exchange information on technology, but began including bits of information on their personal lives and news that was either not mainstreamed or of interest. As more people became interested in exchanging media, weblogs started to play a crucial role in the circulation of breaking news, to aid in shaping the story, and spinning the stories to include reaction and perspective.
Published media could be brought into the public light, and even include real time, instant commentary to readers. Weblogs created a greater connection between people and the media.
The early days of weblogs can very much be equated to what social media sites, such as Facebook and Google +, are today. They are social platforms that allow a user to include personal information and components of the media. Generally, the people that the user is connected to have a strong enough common interest to the user to also find interest in that particular bit of information, which means they may share that people in their circle, and so on and so forth.
How Do Weblogs and Journalism Work Together?
With weblogs becoming increasingly popular and with weblogs taking a greater role as a media platform to journalism, the question shifts to inquire how to define journalism in the new digital media world, and where do weblogs fit into this? Do we observe journalism as an art or an act over a profession? If we observe journalism as an art or an act, do the final works merit credibility, or does journalism only count if it was created from a professional journalist, per se? The question has been asked and moderated by Jay Rosen to be addressed and responded to by other bloggers.
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The purpose of the question was originally questioned to view the relationship that weblogs and journalism played together. If you view the role of journalism to be to circulate valued information to the general public, arguably the role of bloggers play a very important role as a media platform. However, given that most bloggers don’t get paid for the contributions they make to the distribution of news, can it be argued that a blogger is not professional, therefore should not be merited as a credited source? Observe, however, that “professional” journalists are owned by someone or an entity, where as bloggers are not, which allows information not to be constricted from agenda.
But journalists and the general public are recognizing that blogging is a part of today’s media and will play an increasingly important role in the Future of Blogging. Weblogs do more than just discuss matters and distribute news, but have a network following, which cannot be denied as an important role in journalism.
Weblogs: Voice and Interest
With weblogs successfully connecting people, why stop with just the person lives of individuals and circulating journalistic media? The possibilities to connect and give voice or perspective is incredibly broad. Subjects that connect people include:
- Books: Books and passages within them provide the opportunity to strike discussion on culture, history, and society.
- Politics: Politics are not just black and white, and need to be discussed to shape the evolution and progression of society. The more access to political truth, the more informed we become, allowing individuals to make conscious political decisions and change.
- Culture: It is important for active members of society to know and to understand culture to aid in the progression and stabilization of a well ran society.
- Technology: Technology is constantly evolving. Weblogs create a great platform to discuss up and coming technologies, the uses and functions, and the benefits (or lack there of). With so many reviews of web products being shoved in consumers’ faces, it becomes difficult to know what resource to trust. Discussing this information on weblogs provide a trusted platform with possibly more accurate information about the product.
- Religion: It is important to understand how religion plays a role in society or in the personal lives of others to be understanding and empathetic.
- Movies: It’s not necessarily important to discuss movies, but it is fun. Most of us end up going to movies based on the lure of the trailer and are unsure whether the movie will be good or not, so hearing the discussing plot puts a better perspective on what to expect from your movie experience.
- Issues: In order to make effective and beneficial change in society, issues need to be discussed.
- Philosophy: Almost every action is made following a philosophy. When we understand the philosophy, we understand the action.
Who Runs Weblogs?
There are no rules behind who can or can not run a weblog. With the evolution of technology and the desire to have a voice be heard (if only by a few interested people), the possibilities for anyone to start a weblog is endless.