Sometimes on Infosnack, I post trivial things. Stuff like the humorous bracket of bank and finance corporation mergers that makes lighthearted fun of the recent credit crisis. Stuff like what words I’m going to drink to for political speeches. I hope at least some of my readers enjoy or at least tolerate that. It’s fun for me and that’s half of the reason I write this blog. I enjoy it and don’t take it too seriously. Find a link, write some comments, and post.
Not so for the large, researched articles on Infosnack. These are the kinds of articles that get picked up or linked to on other sites. For those, it’s all business. I consider myself a journalist. I call the media relations office, file FOIA requests, interview people both for the record and "on background", and perform original research. I try to present the information fairly and accurately, and make sure it’s clear when I’m stating my opinion rather than fact.
WMATA recently responded to my PARP (like FOIA) request for reduced fees by arguing that because I am not in the business of actually disseminating the information as opposed to merely making it available, then I am not a member of the media.
In this case the question is very important because if I am a member of the media, I get reduced or eliminated fees for information requests. I can also request expedited treatment if a story is breaking or urgent in nature.
I think their distinction is not the proper frame of mind for determining whether I am a member of the media. Who cares whether I own a worldwide network of wires that carry data to a broad audience of readers? That’s not the way information is distributed nowadays. I make the information available, and then try to disseminate the idea of where that information is available. I do this through having an RSS feed, sending links to like-minded bloggers, and posting comments on other sites or mailing lists. I also receive a lot of readers through search engines like Google.
I think the proper frame of mind is whether I am following or making a serious effort to follow the principles of journalism. I found a list on the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism:
- Journalism’s First Obligation is to the Truth
- Its First Loyalty is to the Citizens
- Its Essence is a Discipline of Verification
- Its Practitioners Must Maintain an Independence from Those They Cover
- It Must Serve as an Independent Monitor Of Power
- It Must Provide a Forum for Public Criticism and Compromise
- It Must Strive to Make the Significant Interesting and Relevant
- It Must Keep the News Comprehensive and Proportional
- Its Practitioners Must be Allowed to Exercise Their Personal Conscience
What do you think? Am I living up to the principles? What makes a blogger a journalist? Are all bloggers journalists? Are none of them? Can you do journalism as a hobby, or must it be your full-time job?