Today in Brussels, I sneaked into the kickoff seminar for the European Blogging Competition, at which about 90 bloggers and would-be bloggers, representing every European Union nation, are getting a crash course in E.U. politics and blogging techniques.
Good panelists, good Q&A. But oddly, one of the liveliest discussions revolved around this old question: Is blogging journalism? (It’s a question that, in my view, misses the point. Blogs are simply a platform, much like newsprint, on which journalism can be produced.)
What was really being discussed, I think, was the difference between independent and affiliated journalists, or between amateurs and professionals, or between traditional and non-traditional news sources. And there, the distinctions are increasingly hard to make.
To use U.S. analogies: Is a reporter for TechCrunch independent or affiliated? Is The Huffington Post amateur or professional? Should we trust a scoop on TPM Muckraker less or more than a scoop in the New York Post?
Some in the audience seemed set on drawing a line between the journalism produced by paid journalists working for traditional news organizations and that produced by “bloggers.”
People wrongly conflate “traditional” with “credible.” (Of course, a strong brand will always bring cachet, but there are new strong brands emerging all the time.)
In a few years, nobody will care whether a website has (or had) a legacy print or broadcast product attached. What matters in the long run is the quality of your work, as judged by your audience, and the credibility that quality brings you.
It took me a while to understand that.
Also today: Nice talk on standing out in the blogosphere from Clo Willaerts, who crowdsourced her presentation in advance on Twitter.
The actual blogging in the European Blogging Competition (sponsored by the European Journalism Centre, where I interned 6 years ago) begins Feb. 1.