Friday, October 31, 2014

Reporting vs. Blogging

Reporting vs. Blogging
By Jim Vail

I am the editor of Second City Teachers education news blog. 

I am a reporter, but I also run a news blog. What is the difference between reporting and blogging?

I think this is an important question today as more and more people grow disenchanted with regular mainstream media and look for alternative sources of news, such as blogs and other social media forums.

First of all, a reporter is someone who interviews sources or researches for a story that they then write to inform the public. The reporter works for a newspaper, magazine, website or any other online or offline news source.

So when a friend of mine said my blog was not a usual blog, he meant that I am doing regular reporting that one sees in a newspaper, not a blog.

Blogs usually just re-post news stories from other sources and comment on the topic. For example, in the Michael Klonsky Small Talk news blog, he features news stories from the Sun Times, Chicago Tribune or other mainstream news outlets, and then comments on it. 

I will report on a news story by interviewing people and then write up my own story. Of course, this takes work and should be compensated. I do report first hand from events like the Chicago Teachers Union House of Delegates meetings. 

I also have a top-notch journalist friend reporting on education and politics from Russia. 

I will at times comment on news stories, and write up what I hear from teachers, students and parents throughout the city. 

The key here is a reporter must check and source his facts, while a blogger is not required to.

I'm sure there are different reasons why people blog. I do not trust the mainstream media and do not see a totally independent education news source out there, so I present my news site for teachers and others interested in an alternative view about our corrupt political system. 

I for one do not read many blogs because as I said they are mostly commentaries about the news. I prefer to read the original report. Blogs can be careless and free with the facts. In other words, a newspaper has its reputation on the line when the facts are wrong. A blog has only the writer's vanity to guide it.

That is not to say you should trust the mainstream media any more than a left or right leaning blog. While the writer's reputation is on the line, readers should understand every source has a bias toward something. Look at the person running the news site, and even more importantly, look at the money behind him or her to make the site happen.

Marketing and selling a news site that can earn thousands or millions of followers can be powerful. But still many successful online media ventures have failed. It is not easy to make a buck in this industry.

Anything independent (meaning not connected to a powerful interest with money) is mostly marginalized and not well read. So there are powerful alternative media forums that people should read, but they don't necessarily have huge readership because the business model doesn't allow for it.

Which brings us back to the original question - blogging or reporting. Everyone can blog who can write, but not everyone can report who can write. It is important to understand this difference in today's social media environment, and critically evaluate all media around us.  

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