Blogger & Journalist: Is There a Difference?

One of the programs I attended at ALA was on the reliability of blogs as sources, political and otherwise. One of the featured speakers was Jason Zengerle from The New Republic. He pointed out a difference between most bloggers and journalists; his comments focused on liberal bloggers and liberal journalists. He opined that journalists, even those who work for left-leaning publications (print and electronic) remain committed to objectivity and reporting the facts accurately. In comparison, bloggers are not so much about presenting the truth as winning people over to their side of an argument; he compared their goal as similar to a campaign.

As an example, he used the instance of Harry Reid talking on a conference call with liberal bloggers. After the call, The Politico’s John Bresnahan wrote a story that Reid called General Pace incompetent. When called upon to collaborate this comment, all of the liberal bloggers claimed the comment was not made or they did not remember it. Reid himself denied the comment. A few days later a tape of the call was produced proving that Reid did say Pace was incompetent. Here is the quote:

“Well, I guess the President, he’s gotten rid of Pace because he could not get confirmed here in the Senate. Pace is also a yes-man for the President. I told him to his face, I laid it out last time he came in to see me. I told him what an incompetent man I thought he was.”

Slightly different than what was reported as a bold, headline worthy statement but said nonetheless. What is more disturbing is that the blogs, like the Daily Kos, who were so quick to deny the comment ran underwhelming retractions of sorts like this (again from the Daily Kos):

“Well, it seems that Reid did say Pace was incompetent. He said to Pace’s face.”

This was not run as a new post or retraction but an update appended to the bottom of the original post with the word “Update” added to the headline. I agree with many of the politics on Kos’ blog but this is the type of biased reporting (wrong word?) that throws blogs (some, all?) into question as sources.

I don’t meant to focus on this incident but I wonder if folks who read political blogs find this basis difference between bloggers and journalists hold true. I hadn’t really thought about it and had read liberal bloggers with a fairly blind eye and conservative bloggers with doubt. I found this presentation eye-opening. Opinions?

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