Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Are Bloggers Journalists?

BL Ochman has gone on the warpath against the BlogOn conference and its PR firm, Porter Novelli.  First, she was irked that Porter Novelli’s rep refused to grant her a press pass to cover the event.  Then she seemed insulted
when BlogOn’s marketing rep suggested a trade in which BL would agree
to promote the conference on her blog in exchange for a complimentary

Throughout, BL labels herself as a journalist.  Naturally, this merits some thought and a discussion.  I read BL’s blog because she can be provocative.  As BlogOn and Porter Novelli have seen, she can also be abrasive in her criticism.  For example, she has decided to make an issue out of using Porter Novelli for the conference PR since they apparently have no blog.  (I’ll hold that discussion for later.)

In her response to the BlogOn marketing person, BL states her credentials this way:

I am a corporate blogging consultant with Fortune 500 clients; a sought after and well-paid corporate speaker on the topic of blogging, and author of "What Could Your Company Do With a Blog," which has sold several thousand copies to corporations worldwide. In other
words, I am no stranger to the topic of corporate blogging.

Obviously, while she raises the journalist flag throughout, she clearly has other business interests at stake here.

I guess part of the journalist question comes down to whether you believe that blogs are a new medium or if they are a technological tool to accomplish things that have been done in the past.  For example, in
1999 and 2000, I wrote what I then called an online newsletter about the presidential primaries (called PrimaryScoop).  Today, most would call it a blog since it had various short blurbs posted daily to a web
site and via email lists.  I did it to promote my image as an Internet political consultant and didn’t view myself as a journalist.

Fundamentally, I believe that blogs do not truly represent a new medium, but rather offer a simple way to communicate more effectively than in the past because of the ease of publishing.  In the past, someone like BL might have had a daily email with similar content.  Or pre-Internet it might have been a monthly newsletter to clients and prospects.

BL appropriately points out to a commenter that she has far more credentials than many who might start a blog to get free admission. But the conference promoters certainly have the right to determine who they want to credential for the event.  (And BL has the right to complain publicly as well.)

As a self-professed business blogging consultant, surely BL
Ochman has reasons other than journalism to attend. Certainly she would learn things valuable to
her consulting practice. Now, I may well
have decided to comp her since she does have a wide audience, but it would be a
marketing decision, not a PR one.

Journalist status should be a high bar to achieve for
bloggers since most have other motives (which could be said of the MSM as well). After all, in the old days an email
newsletter to clients and prospects wouldn’t qualify someone as a journalist,
and many blogs serve just the same role today.

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