Be a Jourblist

Question: Is “blog” a bad word?

It’s certainly used dismissively by beacons of the traditional media world, who frequently see blogs and social media as pesky, Napster-esque flies to the real champions of thought and journalism.

In Evgeny Mozorov’s book The Net Delusion, he writes of the online world as a playground for “a bunch of bored hipsters who had an irresistible urge to share their breakfast plans,” while Andrew Keen in Cult of the Amateur claims all the online revolution is delivering is “superficial observations of the world… rather than deep analysis.”

Too often, I have to agree.

Now that anyone can self-publish, unsurprisingly, the level of poor-quality writing sinks the playing field in broader perception.

While planning to make today’s speech on “research” at TBEX’11 in Vancouver, I started to think “blog” needs an alternate name. A “blog” would remain the outlet for casual posters, sharing photos and online travel diaries with friends and family. But something else would be needed for those of us who treat blogging as journalism, as a potential for work.

So, until a better suggestion comes along, I’m suggesting this:

A couple years ago, I chipped in on a NPR panel after three Americans were detained at the Iraq-Iran border. A former CIA guy dismissed them as “Berkeley bloggers,” suggesting they were poking around a place that’s marked with a very clear border. “They had to know they were crossing into Iran,” he said.

Before going on air, I had poked around Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, and found a blogger who had been recently to the same area, had photos of the region. I contacted him and asked, who told me, “I almost made the same mistake. It’s very very difficult to know where one country begins and the other ends.”

Not full-proof journalism, but — unlike the CIA spouter — he had actually been. So I quoted him.

Either way, I think it’s time more of us try up our game. And never treat a blog post as “just a blog.”

About Robert Reid

Lonely Planet's US Travel Editor. Written 24 LP guidebooks and articles for NY Times, WSJ, ESPN & CNN. Into cereal, Dylan, travel.
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7 Responses to Be a Jourblist

  1. Erica Wright says:

    Your presentation was great today and I was really happy to meet you!

  2. Iain Mallory says:

    Interesting viewpoint. I was already aware of that you had expressed this from the comments coming from TBEX.

    I believe this ‘profession’ is the same as any other, if any of us wish to be successful we need to be professional in our attitude.

    The more people self publish the more content good and bad that will be produced. This will make it even more difficult to achieve success and therefore along with talent it will require greater effort and more research to become a ‘professional’ editor/self-publisher.

  3. Twilight Fairy says:

    It’s hard to pronounce. It needs a syllable in the middle.
    How about journoblist (it also makes you feel noble).
    Or jourblogist (but has too much reference to blogging).

  4. deb says:

    You had me until the last three paragraphs. I’m not a journalist, but if you want to differentiate yourselves from the amateurs, proofreading would seem important. :) I’m just saying…

  5. Trans-Americas Journey says:

    While “jourblist” “jourblog” and even “journoblist” don’t exactly roll off the tongue we, too, would love to see some instantly recognizable delineation between the casual blogger publishing willy nilly for the amusement of an audience of friends and family vs. those of us who work as journalists in traditional media and bring the same diligence and creativity to our blogs.

    As you so rightly point out, a well-crafted blog can be a springboard to traditional media assignments. It certainly has been for us.

    And, yes, it is getting easier to explain why solid blogs deserve respect and attention (and good content, including blog content, speaks louder and louder). But it would be a relief not to have to have so many conversations that begin with an explanation of just how seriously researched and produced our blog is.

  6. posicionamiento en buscadores google says:

    This can’t have effect in actual fact, that’s exactly what I suppose.

  7. 4rx says:

    interesting I never thought that blog could be a bad word, and the word Jourblist comes from journalist-blog, not journalism-blog as we can see in the pictures