With an ever-increasing list of bloggers appearing on the PR radar, we ask, should bloggers be viewed with the same legitimacy as traditional journalists?
“NO” says Camellia Bojtor, Senior Account Manager, FleishmanHillard
Any Joe Bloggs (excuse the pun) can post a blog today… they need not adhere to any of the rules governing journalism
Bloggers have become a central element to be considered in the majority of public relations campaigns rolled out today – they have a very specific role to play in influencing public opinion, and as such they must be incorporated. Do they however offer the same authority as a journalist would on a specific subject matter? The simple answer – well – that depends on the blog!
As a general rule of thumb, bloggers are not bound by the same rules of reporting as a traditional journalist. A journalist’s ‘Code of Ethics’ requires each news article that is written and published to be objective, accurate and impartial. Blog articles on the other hand, and perhaps more prominently in the region, are none of the above.
Most professional media houses will have rules in place to ensure that these values are not compromised among their journalists. Impartiality and objectivity for example, will be governed by a rule that prevents journalists from accepting bribes, or more relevantly gifts, which above a certain value could be construed as a bribe. One of the UAE’s publishing houses for example collects all gifts provided to media and auctions them off for charity, since media gifts can sway journalists to unfairly provide positive reviews. Accuracy too is governed by the requirement that a journalist uses reliable sources in any story. They are required to double-check all facts and print corrections when required.
There are no such rules governing a blog. Any Joe Bloggs (excuse the pun) can post a blog today, and by their very nature they are based on an individual’s opinion, laying it in bare opposition to a traditional journalist writing an article say, for a daily newspaper. They need not adhere to any of the rules governing journalism, and there is nothing to say that this is wrong. Of course however, the blogger that does follow these rules will be more respected in their respective field, and will often be viewed as a greater authority.
There are many bloggers in the region as most PR’s will attest (most of the time so called ‘fashion bloggers’ – sorry don’t mean to bash), who often ask for freebies (we are sometimes hounded for these), and publish their reviews on this basis. This does not make for an impartial blog. There are on the other hand, food bloggers for example, who only review restaurants on an anonymous basis, paying for all their meals, to ensure that their review accurately reflects a paying customers experience.
On a final note, there are many great bloggers out there who are an authority on their subject matter – but many on the other hand who are not. Bloggers certainly hold a key role in the media field, however since they are not bound by the same standards a journalist, we cannot consider them one and the same. As such, a blog should always be treated with caution.
“YES” says Farah Ibrahim, Senior Media Relations Manager, TRACCS UAE
With the acceleration of the 24/7 news cycle, bloggers have introduced a more flexible, freewheeling approach to information gathering
Content is king and always has been. Blogger-developed content often scores hits not only because it’s not driven by deadlines and word counts, but often by a genuine interest in a topic and a voice that sparkles with both passion and wit.
Bloggers today are some of the most zealous producers of content, the most successful self-promoters and the most vocal – so yes, they need to be considered a force to be reckoned because they shape opinion.
True, there is a fair share of blagging that passes for blogging, but unfortunately that could be said of many unethical journalists too. Taken at its best, blogging often expresses points of view that are popularly held but not regularly expressed by publications due to a variety of constraints – some editorial, some monetary and some ethical.
Blogging offers an insider’s view on a variety of topics such as fashion, food, technology, art and travel, all driven by a personal interest and knowledge developed from a lifetime of living, as opposed to academic fact-collecting and a desire to share something that stirred or struck.
Blogging also offers immediacy and a touch or irreverence – and who can deny that they would rather read something that tells it like it is? The fact that a number of mainstream publications run blogs corroborates the fact that today’s audience like their facts with a dash of opinion. A blog allows you to combine the best of all the popular elements of journalism – reportage, editorialising and multimedia – all handily packaged by topic for today’s time-poor reader who wants it all.
Bloggers today have already earned a legitimacy and influence that is impossible to ignore. The better bloggers work hard at setting down ethical guidelines and sticking to them to build greater credibility. As blogging becomes increasingly incorporated into mainstream media, there will inevitably be more regulation, for better or worse. With the acceleration of the 24/7 news cycle, bloggers have introduced a more flexible, freewheeling approach to information gathering, rapidly curating and posting content at a pace that matches and sometimes beats their counterparts in print and broadcast.
Some bloggers are like columnists, preaching on issues that interest them. Others disseminate news and information. Others entertain. They either do it well or they don’t. But that’s true of regular journalists too, isn’t it?