Every few weeks or so, someone writes something claiming that the blogging phenomenon is something other than what it appears to be.
The most recent of these pieces is from Ad Age's Simon Dumenco, who argues that there is "no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing -- writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology."
I understand what Dumenco is saying. And I agree with him....to a point.
When I meet with journalists and publishers who are less than enthusiastic about new media, I tend to say things much like Dumenco is saying.
"Blogging," I say, "is first and foremost about a type of software. It's about inexpensive, easy-to-use, content-management systems." Furthermore, I say, blogging software will replace the publishing software that you use now. Or, as Dumenco says, existing content-management systems "will be phased out and everyone publishing online will be using some form of what’s now commonly thought of as blogging software."
But when I speak with journalists and publishers who are more open-minded than average, I take a different approach.
"Blogging," I say, "represents a fundamental cultural shift in media. Something has changed in how people approach content. The audience has found its voice. News consumers insist upon the option of participating in the news-gathering process. And there's no going back." Furthermore, I say, the fundamental traits of blogging -- feedback functions, audience participation, citizen journalism, transparency, external links, rapid publishing -- make for better journalism. And much of what we as journalists do in the future will be similar to what is now commonly thought of as blogging.
And therein lies my concern. When someone like Dumenco says that blogging is just writing, that whether you are reporting for a mainstream publication or publishing a blog, the "underlying creative/media function remains exactly the same," I wince.
Because for every journalist I meet who is excited by the culture of blogging, I find 10 who don't have a clue what that culture is. For every reporter I meet who likes the idea of public conversation, agnostic links and mash-ups. I meet 10 who think they can say everything there is to say.
Blogging isn't just writing. It is more. It is writing and conversation. And those two things combined make for better journalism than either could alone.
For more on the difference between writing and blogging, check out this post by Steve Rubel.
For more on the lessons that blogging has for journalists, read this earlier post of mine.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, advertising, newsletters, conversational media