If you look into this ‘social media bubble’ of ours a little more closely, you’ll easily find a bit of tension around the topic of bloggers and journalists. There are some who argue that bloggers are akin to journalists, others that the difference is in the adherence to the rules of journalism, checking one’s sources and facts before publishing versus taking a single source and smattering it with opinion. My view on this issue is pretty straight forward. Did you go to journalism school? Do you follow the rules and ethics required to call yourself a journalist? Then yes, by all means, you are a journalist. Do you write what you feel and mix your opinion in on what you are reporting? Then yes, by all means you are a blogger. But you’re either one or the either at any given time. The two identities for one person cannot exist on the same site.
Why then are newspapers confusing themselves with blogs? I’m referring to the habit of commenting on specific news stories. Bloggers thrive on the conversation. Their traffic depends on the ability to create discussion and engage readers. On any reputable blog, a commenter must identify themselves, must put their name to what they are saying and must be open to criticism. But at least there is transparency and authenticity behind the discussion.
Why is it that many major newspapers allow for anonymous comments and let conversations run where they choose next to the headline unless deemed entirely inappropriate by a moderator? You’re a newspaper. Not a blog. If you want to be a blog, go be one. Or start a section meant for discussing the story, but in a forum where you are also active in the conversation, like any responsible blogger would be. If you’re a newspaper, adhere to your credibility and integrity. TURN YOUR COMMENTS OFF. Let Grandpa Simpson start his own blog and quit trying to be something you’re not. I come to your site because I want the news, not because I want to see what the latest rant is from people not willing to stand behind what they say enough to put their name on it. Seriously. Newspapers, you’ve had enough of a midlife crisis. It’s time to grow up again and stand by the purpose you were once meant for or go for the complete transformation. Because although your stories still maintain the fact and integrity of journalism, the sludge that you allow to attach itself through anonymous comments does not.