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 😛  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.  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.  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.  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.