Blogging as mass media: Is blogger a journalist?
Guest post by Manoj Pandey
Blogs were among the first social media entities that, in addition to connecting people, gave rise to mass distribution of content. In that sense they are no less than the traditional 'mass media'. However, puritans would not like to dilute the significance of traditional mass media such as newspapers and television – where a formal ‘press’ entity broadcasts news and information to a large audience/ readership.
... On the other hand, some media observers in the early blogging days got swayed by the tide of blogging. They even predicted that blogs would soon annihilate the mainstream print press. That never happened.
... While the boundaries have disappeared or are fast disappearing among different media formats, web 2.0 media, which include blogs as well as other social media formats, have a winning edge due to their inherent interactivity and sharability. The traditional media (newspapers, magazines, radio and television) do not have interactivity except when they join the web. Phone-ins during TV shows, surveys and similar attempts to bring in interactivity or reader participation are much inferior to what is possible on web 2.0 media.
... Despite disdain from the traditional media, social media is gaining importance as an important means of spreading information. Among all social media platforms, blogs are special; they carry long-form content with a longer shelf life than social networking segment (Facebook, Twitter etc).
Blogs as the fourth pillar of democracy
... When it comes to standing against pressure, especially against oppressive governments, most media houses buckle down. Bloggers who choose to act as a watchdog by reporting wrong-doings in public offices and the society and by writing against them are in a very small number, but they are a highly motivated lot. They individually cannot resist pressures and threats and yet try to keep doing their job, sometimes by remaining anonymous.
... Only a fraction of blogs qualify to be equated with press in the sense of its role to be a fearless watchdog of public and social life and governance. A slightly bigger minority of bloggers report on events or analyze issues like a mainline writer/ journalist would do, and they earn their reputation as a professional writer or blogger.
... In a wider perspective, all bloggers who blog about any matter that is not private and personal are a sort of journalists, but not professional journalists. A larger fraction can, however, be equated with media, discussing matters ranging from science to health, fashion, cinema, sports and current affairs.
Bloggers have no obligation to carry out the diktats of their bosses as they do not have any. Contrast this with the journalists working in traditional media bosses who quite often are politically aligned and have hidden business interests.
Blogging has democratised content publishing the way no traditional media could. Don't call them mass media if you want to stay with the book definition of the term, but appreciate them for what they are: m a s s m e d i a.