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Thread started by Dave Winer on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

Blogger vs Journalist

Margaret Sullivan, writing at the NY Times, tries to define what a journalist is, in the age of blogging.

I've been thinking and writing about this for a long time.

When I started at Berkman in 2003, with the mission to start the blogging activity at Harvard, possibly the first at an academic institution anywhere, one of the first questions I tried to answer is What makes a weblog a weblog?

The conclusion I came to is that it's the unedited voice of an individual. The medium and form is not important. You could write a blog post in print on the op-ed page of the Times. But as soon as another person is involved in the writing of the piece, we're not talking about a blog anymore.

The process continued over the years.

In podcasts with Jay Rosen, we talked about this a lot. Jay is a well-known journalism professor at NYU. I of course, am a blogger.

In that period I came up with this idea. Bloggers are what journalists call sources. Originators of information or ideas. People who make news, and not people who report news.

I think that distinction is very important when trying to decide who has the official shield of a journalist, protected from government prosecution when leaks are involved. As long as the person is reporting the news, and not making the news, then we're clearly talking about a journalist and not a blogger.

If this is what a journalist is, then Glenn Greenwald was most definitely a journalist when reporting the Snowden story, as long as all he did was report on the leaks. If he himself leaked, then he is a blogger.

Hope this helps.