Getting there

Getting there

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blogger <-> Media

I have been writing this personal blog for almost six months now, and in recent months it spun off into another blog. This other blog is related to life in my city and as such has a very different focus, but is similar in some respects. The one thing a bit different is that in my other blog I cover local events and people which lends it more of a "media" type feeling. The quandary this has left me in, though, is whether or not bloggers are truly members of the media.

Recently the local public school board issued an invitation to "members of the media" to tour a new junior high facility. I must admit I never received an invitation, which underscored (at least in my mind) my tenuous position as a member of the media, with both the pros and the cons of that position.

As a blogger I am my own journalist, editor, and publisher. I work under no deadlines except those I self-impose. I cover only those stories that interest me and that I wish to write. As long as I adhere to those laws pertaining to libel I have virtual carte blanche to write what I want. These are some tremendous advantages in my opinion, but there is a cost, too.

I have no newspaper or magazine affiliation. I have no press credentials, and thus I have to rely on my own initiative to find and pursue stories. I have to build my own reputation and hope that it opens doors for me as I cannot rely on the reputation of the organization I work for to breach those doors. I have been tremendously fortunate that those I have contacted have been willing to share their stories and thoughts with me so that I could write about them, but it would also be so easy for them to refuse.

I truly believe that bloggers are the new face of the media. We may not be as traditional as newspaper reporters but we also bring something new to the table. We can write our stories without the constraint of the bias of our organization (although often with our own), and we can infuse our stories with personal details or feelings that true journalism avoids (and for good reason). We have the freedom to chase stories that larger media outlets may ignore, and we have the ability to go further inside them if we choose to do so - without having an editor tell us we need to move on.

I must admit that at times as a blogger I feel a bit like a kid with her hands and face pressed up against the window glass, shut out in the frosty cold while members of the "true media" bask within the warm glow of whatever event is occurring. The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that I wouldn't want to give up the freedom I have as a blogger in order to gain more access or "official" credentials. My reputation as a writer rises and falls solely on my writing and not on the reputation of my employer, which is both exciting and sobering. My stories get written because I have taken the initiative - I just show up at events and press conferences and go from there (and you know, I haven't been tossed out of one yet). I have access to the people I have interviewed because I have contacted them and taken that leap of faith (one that was at first very difficult for me as I am fundamentally a rather shy sort). Things have gotten easier with time, and now I have people contacting me in order to have their event or activity written about. To me that says that my role as media is gaining some validation.

In the final analysis, dear friends, I am a writer and a blogger. I'm not sure if I am a member of the media, and I'm not even sure I truly wish to be. All I know is that blogging has opened up a world of new acquaintances, friends, and experiences, and has allowed me to explore some things that would have otherwise gone unexplored. Blogger or media? I don't know, really. And I'm not sure if the distinction really matters, either.

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