The question that she asked me during the seminar was, "What is the difference between a journalist and a blogger?" I had lots of answers to that question but the heaviest of which is that a journalist must always strive to do balanced reporting while a blogger's personal slant must always be transparent. Those are two completely opposite directions.
A few days later, that simple answer would become even more complicated.
Big Bad Blogger circus that ensued last Sunday, I thought that maybe I should write about blogging philosophies. I mean, there were arguments at both ends of the spectrum: bloggers that blog for a living versus bloggers that will give prospective advertisers hell if they so much as offer to pay for content.
As a former private blogger, I understand where the latter is coming from. My LiveJournal, which had been running since 2001, is almost always locked now because I'm so paranoid about people reading my most personal rants and raves. That LJ had, in fact, been my strongest weapon in court, when I had to battle it out with an ex and it was corroborated by some of my LJ contacts. There was a time when my real world friends are the only ones who can read my LJ. But now, only a couple of them update their LJs, namely Kel and Kaoko. Seeing people whom I have never met in real life add me as their LJ friend freaks me out. And if advertisers approached me for it, I'd probably give them hell, too, because I absolutely refuse to be their online version of a reality TV show.
Now, as somebody who had been online and an active web 1.0 author since 1997, I know what it's like to do online publishing for a living. Sure, my personal slant had always been obvious then, since I ran a hobby website that contains reviews, a forum and features niche products. There's not much difference between that and public blogging, really, except for the technology involved. Web 1.0 had us developing our layouts through Adobe Photoshop, composing our thoughts on notepad, formatting them in nicely arranged HTML and uploading everything via FTP.
If I create a theoretical and conceptual model for what I had been doing since 1997, you could actually say that I had been one of the earliest bloggers and that I blogged for a living. Especially now that that Web 1.0 site, The Otaku Fridge, moved to Wordpress in 2007 and then eventually settled on Blogger in 2009.
J-List's Peter Payne first contacted me to be one of their affiliates, offering to send me DVD games and merchandise for review, I made it clear to them that I almost always bash many interactive DVDs to death. He said he didn't mind, since it was better if someone credible wrote about them, whether the review was good or bad. True enough, most of my readers would still readily purchase DVDs that I figuratively dumped into a vat of boiling water. (Go figure! I say, stay away, and they still come buying. Weird.) It didn't make sense to me, but as long as everyone's happy, I was ok with it.
I don't mind attending events as long as it's only once a week (hah, I've lowered it down from twice to once), if my friends are present (what can I say, I'm afraid of unfamiliar people in real life) and as long as I truly TRULY believed in what the events are for. I can't exactly endorse everything I see. My students, even those who've graduated, frequent my blog and I'd feel horribly responsible for decisions they make because of my recommendations.
My point is, it doesn't really matter to me if bloggers make money out of blogging or if they choose not to. What's important to me is that they remain credible, true to their word (why would I keep visiting a blog that always says positive things to the point of overselling?), and not extorting anyone.
As for the rest of the issues surrounding the Big Bad Blogger, all I can say is that it doesn't only happen in the blogosphere. It happens in print, newspapers and advertising, too. It happens when you digitally manipulate someone's image and say that she's beautiful because she's using this miracle beauty product, when it's actually the editing software that did all that.
Plus, envelope journalism exists...and it's quite rampant, to boot!
On envelope journalism, a co-faculty who's also a PR person (and whom I am quite fond of despite our opposing principles), said to me, "Hey, don't close your doors on envelope journalism. It's still money."
I laughed and retorted, "Evil, begone!"
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