K. Daniel Glover of the National Journal's Beltway Blogroll has crafted an insight into the adversarial relationship of bloggers and journalists. Bloggers shouldn't replace professional journalists, says Glover (himself a journalist), but the profession is better thanks to blogs:
Instead of being part of the Fourth Estate, [bloggers] are part of something new. I call it Estate 4.5 -- a nod both to the profession whose excesses galvanized many bloggers and to the medium they use. Bloggers are like inspectors general, the independent watchdogs of government. Just as IGs are not part of the agencies they oversee, bloggers are neither part of government nor journalism, but they keep a wary and watchful eye on both. And in so doing they provide a valuable check against the arrogance, inadequacies and abuses of all four estates.
Read Glover's whole speech, delivered last week at a DC roundtable.
I've never understood why people think "blogging" has anything to do with journalism. This idea has been floating around since the very beginning of the whole "blog" phenomenon, and it just doesn't make any sense to me. Of course they "are part of something new". What else could they be?
Well, there are a lot of different approaches to blogging, from journaling to punditry to photoblogging, to a more magazine-style approach (which we tend to here at Worldchanging).
Some of them bear very close resemblance to journalism with their focus on events and persons outside the immediate circle of the writer, of interest to a wider group of readers, as well as the frequent pace of updates.
And some would lean towards saying blogging is more the technological method, the content management system, and not the content itself.
Looking at it as content, where I (not particularly originally) see the distinction between journalism and "current events blogging" is in how much first person research and gathering of facts is going into the content from primary sources, vs. critiquing the work of others.
That's the "IG" role Glover describes--he's focused on a particular facet of the blogger/journalist relationship. It's one way to be a blogger, but not the only one.