The question is no longer, whether blogs can be journalism. I think there is no question that blogs are now mainstream media and that citizen bloggers ‘are’ journalists. And we are now seeing mainstream media coming in the other direction by more traditional media outlets adding blog content. Blog sites are now touching tens of millions of people in the United States and the numbers of blog readers are projected to continue growing.
I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my blog, Community Matters. Passing this marker, I found myself reflecting over the last 12 months. Who could have forecasted that I would write 580 articles (and on a myriad of topics) or predicted that Community Matters readers would leave 7,800 comments as a result of my posts?
In addition to the blog’s recent anniversary, another milestone has been realized for Community Matters. I was approached by Tom Murray, editor for the Mainline Media News, about the possibility of adding my community blog to his newspaper’s online site. Although intrigued by the offer, I had some reservations. Would I maintain complete control over Community Matters . . . the blog’s contents and its comments? Flattered by Tom’s interest in Community Matters, it was important that my writing and reader’s comments be protected and not compromised, edited or filtered. Tom assured me that not only would I remain in control of Community Matters (Community Matters is password protected) but that when readers visited the newspaper online and clicked on Community Matters, the traffic would go directly to my site. As a result, I am excited to announce that Community Matters can now also be found on the home page of Mainline Media News, http://mainlinemedianews.com/
Will citizen journalists garner respect in the mainstream journalism world? I guess it is like anything, it will depend on the quality of the writing of the specific blogger and the standard of their blog. There has been a battle the last few years, bloggers vs. journalists. I don’t think that the rise of blogs equals the death of professional journalism. The media world is not a zero-sum game. Increasingly, in fact, the Internet is turning it into a symbiotic ecosystem — in which the different parts feed off one another and the whole thing grows. That’s how I view the relationship of Community Matters with the local newspaper. There is no reason a community blog cannot successfully exist independently but also keep company on the home page of Mainline Media News. Hoping to increase traffic to Community Matters with this new venture, I view the opportunity as a win-win for me and for the newspaper.
There have been a few naysayers who have questioned if my blog was mainstream journalism. Tom Murray’s offer for Community Matters to ‘live in the space’ of the newspaper validates this citizen journalist and hopefully now quiets those critics.