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Blogging: A Threat To Journalists?

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There are thousands and thousands of bloggers around the world, and each day their number increases by several hundred, if not several thousand. Some observers have said that blogging is the journalistic equivalent of grassroots politics. Anyone with a blog can make his or her voice heard and become editor-in-chief of his or her own "newspaper."

The majority of blogs, however, are still quite “infantile,” and reading them on a regular basis would be a complete waste of time. But there are also many fine and well-written blogs that do a better job than many journalists in the mainstream media. It is those few blogs that give journalists a run for their money, which is why more and more columnists in the traditional media scene feel compelled to write articles about the blogosphere with the sole intent of denigrating bloggers.

The latest example is Adam Radwanski, who wrote a column for the National Post. In it, he denounces the blogosphere as an echo chamber where original thought is rare. He feels that blogs are a good medium to swap recipes and such, but that they don’t have the makings of taking on the jobs of “real” journalists or pundits.

Radwanski, who blogs himself, has it all wrong, but I believe he is motivated by feelings of protectionism, as most professions are when they are faced with serious competition from the outside.

He is right, of course, that a lot of bloggers simply repeat and reinforce each other’s ramblings, but there are also plenty of high-caliber blogs with lots of fresh and original ideas. Some political bloggers, for example, have managed to dig up dirt on politicians or landed high-profile interviews with the newsmakers of the day. But to Radwanski, so it seems, bloggers will never measure up to traditional journalists.

Radwanski’s bio does not say much about his educational background. It mentions his involvement in politics and contributions to various newspapers and magazines. For all we know, I have more journalistic training in my little finger than he’s ever had. Still, since I happen to write for this medium, rather than the mainstream media, I am automatically painted with the same broad brush by him as all those truly lousy wannabe writers who blog about the most inane stuff and cannot even write a short sentence without messing up grammar and spelling.

Every profession is filled with wannabes, whether it be the legal, medical, or writing professions. In every group of professionals, there are only a precious few who truly excel in their chosen craft. I see that in my other line of work, translation, every single day. Right now, blogging is a budding "profession," if you will: there's still tons of chaff in there, but there is also some pretty healthy wheat growing in between that will spread its seeds and eventually blow into the fields of the mainstream media. If people like Radwanski can’t live with that, too bad. But making such crass generalizations is not becoming of a supposedly top-class journalist such as Adam Radwanski, and since he’s writing for the National Post, a paper that has never broken even and is rumored to be on its last breath before being shut down for good, we only have his word that he is a “real” journalist.

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About Werner Patels