If blogging is citizen journalism then bloggers are citizen journalists, which by definition is a form of journalism. Blogger relations might then have much in common with media relations.
I argued this case or something much akin to it in a lecture I gave for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in May 2008 at Leeds Metropolitan University.
I had pursued this argument before with little opposition but when the Q&A section came round my argument hit a wall. Richard Bailey, an academic blogger and university lecturer at Leeds took me to task on this view and Chris Norton Account Director at Wolfstar supported his assertion that blogger relations and media relations are very different.
The two points of view can be broadly summarised thus:
The case for the prosecution
- Bloggers don’t like and seldom use press releases
- Bloggers are generally of independent mind and blog because they want to express their own views and opinions and not those of others
- Blogs are not edited in the traditional sense and therefore can not be considered to be media in the conventional sense
- Many blogs simply don’t have an audience
- We have to engage with bloggers in a different way involving more dialogue and discussion
The case for the defense
- Journalists don’t much like press releases either and never did.
- I’ve met some pretty independent minded journalists in my time. If in doubt read Nick Davies’s excellent ‘Flat Earth News’. He’s man of independent mind (although he describes others that are not).
- The difference between blogs and ‘traditional media’ on line is becoming blurred. The process of editing creates authority but it does not mean that blogs can’t be authoritative.
I modified my view after listening to both Richard and Chris but I do believe there is a significant amount of common ground in how we approach the most influential bloggers and how we have deal with journalists who fit the more traditional mould. I imagine however that the debate will run and run.