Like many bloggers, I've had a lot to say about journalism over the years, and I internalized the self-glorifying notion that I practice a form of it here on Workbench. But after a few days of conducting interviews, checking facts and documenting all of my sources for an editor, I was reminded of a substantial difference between journalism and blogging that I had completely forgotten.
A blogger can feel good about his own standards of ethics and accuracy, but there's no cost for failing to meet them. Nobody gets drummed out of the blogosphere for getting something wrong, screwing over a source or writing things that bring shame upon your family. Making matters worse, your biggest mistakes may be rewarded by as much traffic as your best successes.
A working journalist has to worry about ethics and accuracy because your ass is on the line, along with that of your editors and the publication.
I can't think of a single blogger sued for libel or fired from a site over something he reported, and I've never read about one who did something fubar and thought to myself, "that poor sap will never blog again."
But as any reader of James Romenesko knows, professional journalists commit acts of career suicide on a daily basis.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
My old Journalism school pal Rogers Cadenhead makes an important distinction between journalists and bloggers: