For the past several years, I’ve been listening to the tired debate between bloggers and news organizations. It’s been going on for a while, and in some cases the lines have blurred so much that it isn’t an issue any more. At its most extreme, the argument ran thus: Bloggers say Big Journalism is dying and they may or may not be right. News organizations say bloggers are hacks, and they may or may not be right.
I always came down – more or less – on the side of the journalists, and after last night’s amateur foray into political blogging, I still do.
Yesterday, I lost my mind a little when I heard that Bridgeport didn’t have enough ballots for voters. So I put down the short story I was editing, booted up the local newspapers’ sites, trolled the Secretary of the State’s site, and I blogged and blogged and blogged.
Guess what? Blogging is not the same as reporting. At least for me it isn’t.
If I was actually on the street gathering my own news, I might feel differently about this, but what I was doing was sitting at home in my pajamas, reading reports posted by professional news organizations and putting it all together into one blog post about Bridgeport’s election woes.
If you wanted to nicely describe what I was doing, you could say I was “curating the news.” If you didn’t want to be nice, you could say I was stealing it. Since I attributed my sources, I’d just call it blogging.
It was fun, but it was a lot less satisfying than doing my own reporting. It lacked the weight of a real story, and I didn’t have editors leaning over my shoulder, running trained eyes over my copy, and making sure I was adhering to journalistic standards.
There was one real plus to writing a blog about the voting issues, rather than a news piece. One of the nice things about blogging – and one of the things I suspect most bloggers enjoy – is the ability to write an informal, opinionated post from the first person point of view. I did like that, because the only original thing I had to contribute was my own viewpoint as a Bridgeport voter whose tax dollars fund the local registrar of voters.
My opinion on this isn’t set in stone. Maybe some day in the future, I’ll get inspired to do my own interviews and news-gathering, and my feelings on blogging vs reporting will change. But I don’t think so – I got out of journalism because I wanted to teach and do creative writing. So unless Bridgeport does something else that makes me rabidly angry, I will be working on my novel, and not blogging the news.