Journoggers – Journalists that blog

As more trained journalists move into the amateur blogging space, what are the fundamental differences in the blogging style between the two? While some journalists adapt to the new writing style well, understanding the media shifts and blogging well as part of the blogosphere, other journalists that blog – let’s call them journoggers – stand…

As more trained journalists move into the amateur blogging space, what are the fundamental differences in the blogging style between the two? While some journalists adapt to the new writing style well, understanding the media shifts and blogging well as part of the blogosphere, other journalists that blog – let’s call them journoggers – stand apart from the blogosphere, raiding it for content, and disturbing equilibrium. Please note: that might well be a good thing to do or it might cause the journogger to eventually be rejected.

As the BBC tells it’s journos to start using social media as a primary source – or leave journalism – what are the repercussions in social spaces?

I can spot a blogger that is a trained journalist a mile off – especially when they first start blogging. I’m not sure if I can articulate how I sniff out journoggers, but I thought I’d give it a go. If you know of clues or tips for identifying journalists in social networks, let me know. I am going to include journitters (twitterers) here as well.

Some generalisations

Journalists write for a salary, uphold impartial truth over personal relationships which in turn allows them to put hard questions to sources. That is changing but this is generalisations πŸ˜›Β  Bloggers blog for money, fame or passion, uphold truth within the political niceties of their ecosystem/social network/echo chamber and refer/link to other blog articles rather than pick up the phone and ask the hard question. Though that is changing too…

Blogger/journalist Josh Marshall at Talkingpointsmemo won a Polk Award for investigative journalism, helping piece together the U.S. attorney-firing scandal, which led to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigning (mediashift)

I know of 3 other bloggers that have won traditional media awards for their work. I’m not talking about those bloggers. And when it comes to journoggers, I am not talking about Mia Freedman (mammamia) or Renai LeMay who are immersed in the community, not scurrying around the edges looking for “linkbait” (stories that get a lot of discussion because of their controversial nature). I mean a few that use social networks as their own personal hunting ground.

Linking to amateur bloggers and crappy yet funny videos

Bloggers who don’t have an audience and don’t know how to get one, quickly learn to get attention by linking and responding on other people’s blogs. They leave comments on similar blogs, they link to other bloggers in their articles/posts, they stay on topic and tend to be careful/grateful of their audience.Β  On Twitter they link to lots of other stuff besides their own.

Journoggers tend not to link to anybody else but their own articles, traditional media articles or a small group of other journos. Actually some bloggers are like this too, but it’s harder to build an audience. On Twitter, journoggers don’t link to funny or waste of time stuff, only weighty important news.

Participating in the online community… or raiding it?

Bloggers use a “negative” story as a jumping off point for them to give advice, of varying expertise/passion/usefulness, to demonstrate their skill and knowledge in a particular subject.Β  Journoggers simply maximise the distress of the situation. So if you see a post referring to someone being an idiot on Twitter, by tweeting that they hate their client or something, a blogger will usually give “advice” on why social media guidelines are useful, or why transparency is positive or how Gen Z think it’s a fair tweet. Journalists will hold them up for ridicule, expecting comments that are inflammatory (then faking shock when they have nastiness on their site). Set the tone and topic as toxic then shake their head at the great unwashed.

When a journalist Caroline Overington tweeted…


… and the photo linked to was a joke photo, I responded

It absolutely would not be the first time that journalists had preyed on other journalists as grist for the media mill. I’ve blocked a number of journalists that blog any trashy old tweet that they can spin. I suggest you do the same.

Journalists that blog will escalate the outrage with no education around it. If it bleeds it leads versus what can we learn from this.

Burning Bridges versus Building Relationships

Following on from the above, journoggers will use any tweet, blog post, email, rumour, video, conversation, comment or IP address to name and shame, and escalate a story.Β  The only time I see bloggers using private comment info to “out” commenters is either on a mainstream media site with comments or a journogger with WordPress. Most bloggers know that revealing a commenters IP address or where they work or other logins of that commenter breaks trust, and makes it less likely that others will comment anything risky. Journoggers seem to be oblivious to the fact that when someone leaves a comment and the journogger immediately names them as working for a company or some other snippet of info from the Dashboard, breaking the implied “off the record” rule of comments (only what is manually put up, is permissible), that a “us and them” shift takes place. The journogger is continually placed in a position of burning bridges with commenters.

Bloggers do name/shame commenters if they comment anonymously yet their IP address reveals the fact that they work for an “interested party” i.e. a company mentioned in the preceding blog post. However it’s done after much soul searching – ask a blogger how many times they hold up a commenter for ridicule. Now ask a journogger.

Opinion piece versus having an opinion

Journoggers are manipulative with how they express their opinion (usually putting the words in other people’s mouths) whereas bloggers are rant-y. Two extremes. Journoggers will publish a press release with a quick snide comment – yes you know which media blogger I’m talking about – whereas you can’t stop a blogger from putting in their 2 cents worth. Short short articles low on passion versus pieces that could do with a good editor.

There must be a bunch of other differences between journalists that blog and bloggers?

PS Again, for those of you who forget things from the first paragraph by the time you’ve made it to the last, many journalists jump to the dark side and become members of communities, not just preying on them for linkbait articles. But for those that are dragging their feet – We. Know. Who. You. Are.

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  1. Not sure how I feel about the term Journoggers, but I think most of us have observed the phenomenon. It’s sort of the difference between, say, Tony Abbott inviting the media to attend his appearance and making a joke (if that’s what we might call it?) about ironing and some random person on Twitter (or YouTube) making a tongue-in-cheek remark that is understood within the context of their community, but misconstrued (by accident or design) by outsiders.

    1. … and Kevin Rudd getting beaten up because a stripper in New York is following him on Twitter. We who are on Twitter know that lots of random followers appear. And the journo knew that but misrepresented it’s importance to the general public. There are thousands of examples which is probably why I didn’t really give ANY. Heh. Besides that was a journalist raiding social media for stories to give traditional media, not blogging.
      I should’ve included “Ridiculing popular traditional bloggers and attempting to incite arguments between them to highlight their own professionalism“. There is often a form of cyberbullying in a journoggers behaviour.
      You don’t have to like the term but Journogger was the most polite word I came up with πŸ˜›

  2. Spot on. Blogging writing style is more engaging. It’s welcoming and makes it less threatening to leave comments whereas as I wonder if the sharp tone from journoggers (me, I guess) can put people off sometimes.

    1. Yep, I worked for News for a few years. Then Fairfax in the early ’90s. I currently work with a number of news organisations worldwide.
      Some of my best friends are journalists. πŸ˜› None of them are journoggers though a few of them blog. Certainly none of them are as aggressively anti-social media while trawling social sites as this small yet vocal minority…

  3. It’s not the term I object too (c’mon, journos, suck it up). It’s that it describes a phenomenon that doesn’t square with my experience of blogs, amateur and pro.

    As Laurel acknowledges, some journalists blog well and ethically (one can argue about what the latter really means); other don’t. The same applies to bloggers. As a journalist, I’ve been ripped off by other hacks and by bloggers. Link bait is rife across the blogosphere. So is the “exploitation” of “negative” stories (however this is defined) to draw attention and drive traffic. Some journos and bloggers build bridges, others tear them down, while most appear to do neither. Snark is everywhere, “equilibrium” nowhere.

    It’s undoubtedly true that some journalists deliberately “stand apart” from the blogosphere. That’s largely because they work for organizations that set and enforce rules about their online conduct, including their writing style and tone. It’s also, as Laurel suggests, probably a matter of institutional training, which prescribes certain ways of doing things. By contrast, independent bloggers are less subject to rules, which means they can follow their bliss, and because most come from outside the media they haven’t absorbed many of the tired journalist conventions Laurel describes.

    Everyone’s welcome to their opinion, natch, but even at the level of generalization I don’t think her typology works.

    1. Are you in Australia? Because we have a Press that is overwhelmingly negative to social media. There is not a day when “MySpace is for predators, Facebook for stalkers, Twitter for timewasters at work” article doesn’t come out. Also, in Australia, the number of linkbait blogs by non journalists is very low compared to those that are journos. In fact the only exception I can think of is an evil but funny guy from an Agency. Perhaps my vision is clouded by the fact that the only shock jock blogs that have any readership Down Under are journoggers. I suspect California may have a different skew.

      Which brings me to: I don’t necessarily want to see linkbaiters removed from the blogosphere – unless they are cyberbullying someone by writing continually harassing them, they have a place and it makes blogging easier for the rest of us. They keep the trolls off non-linkbaiter blogs. Also, they are often amusing unless they’ve stepped over some arbitrary line (depending on your value system). But why so many of them should be journos or ex-journos is a mystery. Or it’s not, if you read my post above. πŸ˜›

      Given most organisations these days are asking journalists to source stories from the ‘net, don’t necessarily attribute when they do source stuff from bloggers and Twitterers, and often have a social media negative article elsewhere in the paper, it’s just something to watch out for.

      1. I forgot an Aussie political blogger – I don’t know if he has a journo background or not. Vicious and been around for years and years.

      2. No, I’m in the states, and obviously you’d know better than I what the situation’s like in Australia. Be curious to know if there are cultural or other native factors that account for what you describe.

        There’s no question that the media has been hostile not only to new media, but historically to technology as a whole. Journalists were terrified of computerization when it hit the profession in the ’70s and ’80s (email in particular, caused concerns). They were similarly frightened of teletext, TV, radio and, presumably, pneumatic copy-tubes. With every turn in the road you heard many of the same complaints that you hear today about the Web. So this antipathy in some quarters of the media toward new media is very much in this tradition.

        The major reason, I suspect, is fear. I don’t need to tell you that people in media are terrified. As a business, it’s been in a tailspin for going on 30 years (although of course it has mostly remained profitable). From what I’ve seen on the job, much of the hostility you describe stems from anxiety–about being obsolete, redundant, unhip, unemployed. That mixes with what I’d consider more constructive concerns about whether social media is good or bad for journalism (it’s both, of course).

        But that fear isn’t isolated to journalism–it’s societal. Scroll back over the history of technology and you find profound anxiety about innovation. If you went back to the 16th century, not long after the printing press came along, you’d hear scholars complaining about the dangers of excessive reading (no kidding, you can read their commentaries saying precisely that). A few hundred years later people were saying that radio is bad for kids. Again, the general theme of the criticism is always the same–this stuff will rot your brain and contaminate society in the bargain.

        Eventually, for better and for worse, that goes away. We’re still very early in the migration to online technology. These technologies take 30-50 years to fully diffuse within society. Doesn’t mean you can’t complain about poxy journoggers, of course (and that those attitudes aren’t interesting). I just think it’s a tick on a much bigger beast.

  4. I think you might need to work on your definition of linkbait (“stories that get a lot of discussion because of their controversial nature”). Linkbait is content made to “catch” links – it’s not inherently evil or controversial (or a story, or generating discussion). A relatively current example of linkbait would be the infographic-mania that seems to be doing the rounds. Perhaps another term is in order for the type of blog you’re referring to?

    Carry on!

  5. I’m sure there’s a good explantation but your linkedin profile has no mention of your time with fairfax and news that you refer to above.
    In the context of thid piece it would be helpful to understand what you did. Are you saying you were a journalist yourself, or just that you worked in the same building
    If you were a journalist were you good at it?
    Sorry for not leaving my name by the way, despite what you say about tone, I’ve a feeling that as a jouirnalist I’ll be anything but welcome.

    Interesting debate though.

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