Are Bloggers Journalists?

PRWeek and PRNewswire recently teamed up on a study that found 52% of bloggers consider themselves journalists. The last time they did this study, roughly a third of bloggers felt this way. Why do more bloggers consider themselves journalists these days? Well for starters, it’s cool to be a journalist. That’s not the result of the study, that’s just my guess.

Regardless of your position on the topic, it’s clear that bloggers are gaining more and more influence. Audience size is growing for many, and collectively bloggers have a reach equal to or greater than traditional media across many categories. Bloggers and traditional outlets are both equipped with the ability to rapidly spread information across the Web at the same pace. But how credible is information from blogs?

This PRWeek-PRNewswire study found that 91% of bloggers use blogs and social networks “always” or “sometimes” for research (compared to 35% for newspapers). Said another way, most blogs rely on other bloggers – and anybody they find on social networks – as sources for their stories. This is part of the reason accurate and misinformation is spread so quickly online – many bloggers are copying each other.

Now I don’t want to jump to any conclusions here, but if bloggers are getting and sourcing all their information from other bloggers, how reliable is the information? How many degrees from the source of the information is the post you’re reading?

Talking specifics, the study found that 64% of bloggers and 36% of online reporters use Twitter as a research tool for stories, but only 19% of newspaper reporters and 17% of print magazine reporters use this social medium as a research. Does this signal a lack of sophistication and comfort with social media among traditional journalists, or do they know something bloggers don’t, like the best sources aren’t found in a sea of tweets? It’s probably a mixture of both.

Even if half of bloggers think they are journalists, that doesn’t make it so. If I think I’m particularly good looking, it doesn’t make it so. I’ll answer the question for you – no, most bloggers are not journalists. Some journalists are bloggers and vice-versa. It comes down to the quality, accuracy and authenticity of the content from my perspective.

What do you think? Does blogging on a regular basis reclassify you as a journalist? What requirements should people have to meet before they can call themselves a journalist?

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.


  1. Thanks Jeremy.

    Couple of points:

    – Frequent publication does not a journalist make. It makes one a frequent publisher. There are professional bloggers, but blogging is not yet a “profession” in a conventional sense. Journalism is, largely because it has particular norms and standards.

    Blogging is FAR from having commonly accepted standards and myriad blogs egregiously ignore the tenets of journalism (and as you suggest, cite bad info, wholly ignore perspectives that are not their own, etc).

    – Second, as you allude to, the blogosphere relies HEAVILY on “conventional” journalism’s research capacity. Thus, the decline of “old” media is going to be a real problem for bloggers when the reality of newsroom cutbacks and the commoditization of journalism start to really effect the quality of primary data bloggers can link to (Chris Lynch had a great post on that touched on this:

  2. I am a blogger and no, I do not consider myself a journalist. Yes, I did go to college to study journalism and I absolutely always imagined it as my career one day but I think because of that simple fact, I do not consider myself a “traditional” journalist, as much as I would like to.

    I do, however, take offense to these findings that bloggers rely on “other bloggers” and “social media” for their research and information. I put a LOT of time, research, and effort into the things I write about BECAUSE there is so much misinformation spread around through the inturdweb tubes. I think not only studying journalism, but having a father who was a journalist (The Washington Post and The Virginian Pilot – Ledger Star, respectively) has ingrained into my brain the ethics and correct guidelines of ‘proper’ journalism and I find it very hard to deviate from them, whether I am a professional journalist or one of those gosh darn blaaahhhhgers (heh) or not. I also look for these same things in the blogs I read and if something looks hinky, then I take the time to check it out. If I find that it’s another baseless claim or another piece of misinformation, I don’t read that blog, anymore. It’s embarrassing and gives other bloggers, like myself, who try very hard to keep the proper perspective whether they are writing for print media or online, a bad name.

    So, to answer your question, no, I don’t think bloggers are “traditional” journalists but they are paving the road for a future of “new media” journalists. As to what requirements should be met, I haven’t really got an answer for that except that I would like to see ethics and unbiased reporting brought back to ALL types of media. That would be a fantastic start.

  3. I’d almost be a little cruder to say that the difference between journalists and bloggers is that journalists get paid to do a job, most bloggers do it out of a passion for what they are writing about and don’t get paid at all.

    Indeed, there’s no way that a third of bloggers are getting paid to blog.

    The rules change when bloggers start to earn a living wage of course – at this point they’re providing a service and have a duty to treat their readers by writing as if they were journalists.

    Just my tuppence 🙂

  4. Great post (and comments)!

    @Jackson, you’re spot on that there is a big difference between publishing and journalism. In the social media age, anyone can be a publisher/content producer but that doesn’t make the information credible.

    Journalists are held to a much higher standard and have a code of conduct that they need to adhere to. Whether or not a blogger is a journalist should depend on whether he/she is bound by similar set of guidelines designed to ensure fairness and accuracy.

    This is an important discussion because unethical blogging practices puts the consumers at risk. That’s why transparency is so critical, especially given the fierce resistance to any type of governance around blogging.

  5. As a blogger, I don’t consider myself a journalist. The difference is that I write about what I think and experience, I’m not reporting just news. Sure, you can argue this is the same as an op-ed writer, but I don’t think it is.

    Also, as a blog reader, I find bloggers more credible if they DON’T use other blogs as their sources for facts. This is often the practice, but it can turn into a vicious cycle.

  6. I think the reason so many bloggers consider themselves journalists is that they get treated like journalists by so many PR people. I ran a blog for almost a year and in that fairly short time I got on a bunch of PR people’s e-mail lists. I can see how that alone can convince some people that they’re journalists. But the reality is that they are not journalists and I really don’t think most see themselves as such. And I don’t think that’s a problem for them. The bloggers I know make it a point to explain that they aren’t journalists and they don’t want to be held to journalistic standards. They enjoy the freedom of not having those kinds of restrictions placed on them. Frankly I kind of hate that bloggers are being equated with journalists, whether by others or by themsves. I think the two are different and should stay in separate camps.

  7. It’s easy to confuse popularity with professionalism. Just because your blog builds an audience and gains some influence doesn’t make you a “journalist.” It means some people like your message and some trust it.

    As you point out in your follow-up comment, blogging has no accepted standards. Few bloggers attempt to balance their posts, and even fewer follow a strict professional ethic related to accuracy and accountability.

    But here’s the real problem: As mainstream media outlets continue to reduce editorial staffs, the product of “professional journalists” continues to lose value and veracity. A passionate blogger may post a good story now and then. But doing good journalism, day in and day out, is a full-time job that requires a paycheck.

    Blogs add a richness to the media mix, to be sure. But we can’t expect them to be the watchdogs of democracy — even if 52% of ’em think they’re up to the task. It’s nonsense.

    I’m still wondering who’s gonna be the watchdog when the mainstream media disappear. It won’t be me.

  8. Mmmmhmmm. Interesting.

    Also interesting that you’ve got people commenting on your *blog posts* saying, “Great article!” ;] Just poor semantics? Maybe so, but also very ironic. And very telling as to how it doesn’t matter what is and what isn’t right or wrong or blogging versus journalism, a column versus a blog post or a tweet even. It’s all just information out there, competing in the marketplace of ideas. It’s up to readers to decide what to make of it and how much stock to put into it.

    As the writers, all we can do is try to put the best information out there and hope the readers recognize it as such.

  9. I used to be a journalist and am now a blogger. I no longer consider myself a journalist nor do I consider most bloggers to be journalists.

    Being a journalist is fun and has a certain amount of cachet. It’s cool, to some. I think that’s why many bloggers might describe themselves that way. It’s a romantic vision.

    On the practical side, if a blogger considers themselves to be a journalist, they should ask themselves a few questions:
    – Do they base their “stories” on interviews?
    – Do they do multiple interviews & balance their story?
    – Do they ensure there is none of their personal opinion in the story?
    – Are they compensated for their stories (beyond a token payment, if at all)?
    – Do they adhere to a professional code of ethics?
    – Are they protected by libel insurance?

    If the answer to most of those questions is no, then they’re likely not journalists. They’re columnists aka bloggers. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. Jeremy–

    can you tell us who some of these bloggers-who-call-themselves-journalists are?? You’re repeating an old argument that’s been roiling around among bloggers and journalists for a really, really long time now (even before I started blogging on the subject–over 5 years now) and there’s been something of a truce between bloggers and journalists on the matter, esp. when it comes to news.

    BTW, I know a whole bunch of bloggers who are indeed journalists. You might want to look at blogs like CT News Junkie: This is a blog–and blogger–that has evolved into a credible and reliable news source. Christine Stuart has also done some reporting for the local news network.

    That’s why, too, there have been a number of debates about extending the shield law to bloggers. There are many, many bloggers who are indeed doing news–many who have backgrounds in journalism–and they should be protected. Also, as news orgs begin to die down, alternative news outlets are cropping up, and those reporting for them should have protection (as well as those ‘citizen journalists’ who are being recruited to do the work of journalists on either new journalism projects or by cash-strapped newspapers.)

    Think about it…

  11. Just because someone has a printing press, cable access or a press pass doesn’t make them a journalist. If you have a blog that doesn’t automatically make your message shit either. If Upton Sinclair were alive today he would more than likely be a blogger. Consider the Spanish American war and journalism. Do you think Hearst policies over his reporters kept them as ‘journalists’?

  12. I was a journalist, went into the corporate world and now I blog so I straddle both worlds. I think that bloggers add a very important, and increasingly necessary, contribution to the content mix. However, at least in the business and marketing world I’m tapped into, few are real jouranlists and in fact seem to revel in that fact.

    I think some sort of accreditation will emerge that will add credibility to those who do treat their blogs with a journalistic reverance. Every time I mention this at a conference I get booed out of the room, but I really think it w ould work if overseen by a non-profit independent body.

  13. Here in Brazil there has been a change in law saying that journalists do not need a diploma to work in the area. This has caused a stir in the market, especially among Journalism schools – after all, why do people still go to school if they can work without a diploma? The quality of work is the difference among professionals.
    Many journalists are bloggers, but every day more bloggers consider themselves journalists. Knowing what’s behind journalism before typing and eventually being sued for what’s being written will make the difference.

  14. The biggest difference between mainstream journalists (true news outlets versus gossip rags and the like) and bloggers is that the vast majority of the former adhere to strict professional and ethical standards, such as remaining neutral, being fair/balanced in their news coverage, interviewing multiple sources, not publishing heresay, etc. The latter, simply put, do not. Most people who blog do so to get around the traditional restrictions which they feel hamper their ability to write (NOT report) when/what/how they personally want about a particular topic. Yet, they fail to realize (or ignore outright) that these same ethical and professional standards are exactly what give journalism its credibility. I’ve been in PR for 18 years, and for this reason, I make a specific point to not engage bloggers of any kind unless they work for a major news organization, a recognized industry analyst group or have credentials of a related nature. Sorry, but in my book, any other blogger has no credibility.

    • Wow, a PR pro who doesn’t pitch bloggers? I thought folks like you were extinct in the profession 🙂 In all seriousness, while I think your standards might be a tad restrictive, I tend to agree that bloggers shouldn’t be treated as seriously as journalists. And again, this comes from a blogger-turned-journalist. I know there are PR people who will scream to the heavens that this is the wrong approach, but it’s one I’d like to see used more often. If it was, there would be a lot less nearly worthless content online that’s hardly more than a reprinted press release.

    • Anyone who watches the evening news knows that mainstream journalism is sometimes much more about entertainment and ratings than fair and balanced news coverage, which is something of a myth in itself. I’ve worked in media for 16 years, first at a newspaper and later at a large radio broadcasting company. There’s plenty of bias and the standard for ethical behavior can sink pretty quickly. There are some fine journalists out there and some fine bloggers that put many mainstream news writers and reporters to shame.

  15. Do I count in that 52 percent if I want to? I am a former journalist, blogging only about my hobby. Consequently, it’s a well-written hobby blog, but maybe not the best blog out there, as far as design, or even quality of information being presented.

    I’m also the blogger here at my current job, a PR agency.

    As far as pitching bloggers in my current PR job, I have not seen one yet, other than newspaper blogs, that I would want to pitch my stories to. Until then, I’m a PR pro who does not engage bloggers, but isn’t opposed to most of them either.

  16. This pretty much sums up exactly what I thought about the study. The analogy you made about looking good doesn’t equate to it being so was spot on. Just because a blogger considers them a journalist, that doesn’t mean it’s true. In fact, I would argue that over 80% of bloggers have very little idea just what it takes to truly BE a journalist. Sure it’s writing, sourcing, interviewing, etc. It’s also fact checking, editing, researching, and ensuring that the product that goes out is as close to 100% accurate as possible. For me, bloggers (at least most of them) have none of that type of awareness. There’s also a very clear line between opinion and fact that gets lost in the bloggosphere, something that bloggers love to smudge out and then conveniently forget when they get things wrong. Journalists (for the most part) have to always be wary of that line, and risk losing all credibility if it’s crossed.

    I’m sure this debate will continue, but for now, I think that there are still very clear differences between the two. And frankly, I hope it stays that way.

  17. “Are Bloggers Journalists?” Are chiropractors doctors? Are fans athletes? Is the kid who flies a kite a pilot?

    Yeah, what the hell. Whatever you say.


  18. Last I looked there are no state or federal tests/certification for anyone over the past fifty years to hang their shingle as a “journalist.”

    If a blogger does the original research–covers the meeting the MSM missed or snapped a photo of an event by being in the right place at the right time–what the Hell is wrong with all the other bloggers using that for their own take?

    People should read blogs the same way they read editorial/opinion pages of newspaper. Nothing wrong with having a perspective.

  19. Journalists must do their research, check the facts, and report the facts accurately. Bloggers on the other hand are giving their personal opinions on a particular topic, and that is not journalism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are journalists out there that do have blogs and that’s great, but for the bloggers who don’t have journalism credentials they should not misrepresent the profession by saying they are a journalist.

  20. I totally agree with Amanda if the fans are not athletes, why do we have problems to differenciate journalists and bloggers? I think that a blogger is a person who write about their personal opinions or about news, but not in a deep way and the most of the times, you do not know the name and the veracity of the comments.

    However with a jounalist, you know the name, he has access to different sources of the information, he is a person with experience in this field (because everybody can be blogger, but not journalist) and the most important for me, you can ask responsabilities for his news to him and to the media.

  21. Those of us who are journalists may know that a blogger is not necessarily a journalist (while a journalist could be a blogger), but the alarming thing is how little younger people are beginning to care about the difference any more. Credibility, accuracy, research seem to have become less important than opinion — and opinion can’t be right or wrong. It looks very much like younger people who are heavily on social media sites for “news” don’t terribly care how much of it is disinformation and noise.
    I wonder if it’s important for journalists today to be more transparent about how they do their stories so that the distinction between blogger and journalist becomes clear afresh.

    • This is an excellent point and I believe the answer to your question of whether reporters should be more transparent is a resounding YES. Most people don’t have a firm grasp of what the news production process is like. All journalists, no matter what medium they are working in, should strive to change that.

  22. As a blogger who considers that he’s moved into the realms of journalism, I’d say that some bloggers are becoming journalists.

    My posts or articles, or whatever one wants to call them, are sometimes opinion based, sometimes interview based, and sometimes research based. A few of my posts are based on event coverage too. I often refer to official press releases and statistics when carrying out research for articles and do ring people and ask them for their opinions. I try to keep my facts as accurate as possible – but I have no editor – unlike full blown journalists. I also write articles from time to time for magazine web sites.

    Some of my sources are journalists, and several do think of me as being a journalist – up to and including an ex-Associated Press bureau chief I know.

    Then again, I do some PR consultancy and have written press releases and created press kits. I also run a press release writing course for budding Italian PRs.

    Having researched the matter, I’ve discovered that if I actually manage to earn enough from my writing work, I can join a journalists association and obtain a press card.

    Overall, I would say that some, not all, bloggers are a new breed of journalist. Further, I have people writing articles/posts for me, and edit their work – which includes checking the accuracy of what these people are writing. And, I am giving budding journalists the opportunity to write for me – with the possibility that they may even go on to write articles for international news site For this, they will be paid, and this will allow some to move towards becoming qualified as full-blown journalists.

    Odd really, a blogger who may create a few journalists.

    At the end of the day though, if I manage to create a publication which has a certain amount of authority, what will I be considered as being?

    Oh, and I was recently quoted by a major Italian news magazine site:

    A very interesting discussion. Maybe I am not a typical blogger.

      • Hi Anna,

        As I said, I do think some bloggers are becoming journalists, or rather, columnists – and I know I’m not the only blogger who has been quoted by the mainstream press. Those of us who are quoted, and are considered as being, if not experts, possessing more knowledge than others.

        Some of us are being regarded as voices worth listening too – opinion leaders – and this is why some of us are cited by major publications. I guess you could say that it is a form of tribute to the quality of our work.

        If what we write is inaccurate, then the web can shoot us down – or point out that we are wrong. I do not mind this – and like the idea that people can say “Hang on a second, you’ve got that wrong”. It happens, but we can correct our errors – and when things like this happen, we take more care the next time. Bloggers can be more transparent than newspapers in some respects, and we have to be, or else our credibility falls to zero.

        Bloggers who are being quoted by major news publications are doing a good job, and raising the reputation and standing of blogging in general.

        There will always be poor writing or odd claims, but then The National Enquirer did something similar with it’s oddball news stories for years before blogs came on the scene.

        Many people new that The National Enquirer was making a few things up – but then such a style can be entertaining – and there is no reason why blogs cannot be entertaining too.



  23. I think when one asks this questions – are bloggers journalists – you’re not the typical profile one is talking about. You obviously seem to use all the means and tools that have been considered the domain of the journalist all this time and are a journalist in every way except that the platform you use is a blog and not a newspaper. In every other way, you probably work like a journalist, except you have the freedom to bring in as much of your opinion as you like whenever and your writing structures are all your own.

    The worry is probably more that a blogger who does not research anything at all and focuses only on his personal take on events he hasn’t even been present at should call himself a journalist. Or believe that most news is opinion.

  24. I am a blogger who provides commentary on various topics related to global supply chain business process and information technology. I fully understand the differences between a blogger and a journalist. That’s because I was trained as an industry analyst. Industry analysts, at least those that are credible, understand research methodologies and the importance of seeking both independent as well as validated sources of information for any posting or article. Bloggers read other bloggers to gain a sense of conversation viewpoints for various topics, but good bloggers should understand that validation of information requires the need to seek other sources of information.

    I do not believe that one should generalize that the majority of bloggers rely on unvalidated information, since those that have a wide following understand the basics of journalism as well as good research.

    Bob Ferrari

  25. The biggest difference between bloggers and journalists is that MOST bloggers want free products to test, review and write about while journalist are not able ethically to accept such free items nor do they write about them in most instances as that is an advertisement and NOT news!

    • This is a good point Lauren. And I know that journalists are unable, technically, to accept free items. However, as long as the blogger concerned makes it clear that they have received a freebie, most readers can use this to decide whether or not to pay any heed to what is said.

      In Italy, where I am based, some journalists do receive freebies and nobody thinks any the worse of them for doing so – provided that the item is not something like a Rolex or a Lamborghini!

      I admit that I’ve received a few freebies – but I mention this and, remember, generally, nobody pays me anything for what I write – unless someone sponsors me – in which case, I will say something to this effect. I often write about products I have paid for out of my own pocket.

      On the other hand, journalists write for newspapers and other publications which are, in the main, funded by advertisers. I dare say a few articles over the years have not been published in order not to cause bad feelings with advertisers.

      Blogs are not always about news – some are, some aren’t, and some are a mix.



  26. No! Blogs are typically opinion or personal experience based. True journalism reports facts. It’s more op/ed than anything else. Do I prefer blogs, yes. But that doesn’t mean they are journalists.

  27. It’s really sad when people get paid to copy and paste nowadays and we’re supposed to respect these people? There’s a guy I know who studied journalism and that’s all he does, he copies and pastes the info from primary sources and he gets paid as a blogger for the number of views he gets. Sad state of affairs. Much of it isn’t even newsworthy and the writing is as dry as the chosen topics. Unfortunately, as long as there are sites that pay these people, the quality of news is going to go down the toilet. No need to use your brain.

  28. Journalists are held to a much higher standard and have a code of conduct that they need to adhere to. Whether or not a blogger is a journalist should depend on whether he/she is bound by similar set of guidelines designed to ensure fairness and accuracy.

  29. Some bloggers may fit the definition of a journalist but I suspect there are few who do. Editorial writers…maybe, but most true editorial writers know the subject about which they’re writing very well. Editorialists write opinions but they are qualified opinions.

    As bloggers, our mission is not to inform but to inflame and incite.

  30. Up until August of this year, I was a bureau member of a local news agency. While it is true that our local bureaus’ outlets happen to be blogs, the organization itself is run by people who are or have worked as journalists. We were all held to very high journalistic standards, and no, our posts were not copy-and-paste, and they were not copied from other bloggers. Our stories were real news stories, gathered via real legwork, including non-internet research, interviewing, etc.

    Ultimately, I left my bureau, because of a unilateral decision made by my bureau chief, a decision that violated journalistic ethics, presented our outlet in a bad light, and angered a lot of people in our local community.

    My point is that blogger does not equal journalist; however, those who choose blogs as their outlet should not be written off as amateurs or wannabes. Those who want to perform good journalism will. Those who don’t won’t.

    I think it is important, in these changing times, to embrace ALL forms of good reporting.

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