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Friday, July 23, 2004

The steak or the sizzle

Steak on a vegetarian blog, a post in defiance of elitism

Today's LA Times op-ed piece "Blogs no substitute for journalism, the steak or the sizzle" by Alex S. Jones bears reading by bloggers and journalists alike if only to reemphasize the fact that journalism is a living, breathing entity, and not some arcane, ivory towered refugee hiding from the future and the electronic/community on line.

Calling for a definition of journalism that is somehow above and beyond the blogosphere Jones has once again fallen victim to the misdirected fear that journalism and journalists will somehow be replaced by bloggers. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To believe that is to believe as bloggers that we have to periodically shut down our systems lest scores of vacuum tubes overheat and the "COMPUTER"...oh, no that was "Eniac." This is the Twenty First century and bloggers are keeping journals on line, journalists are making journals in newsprint, on the airwaves and, oh yes, on cable or is that just CNN and well I can see how this might confuse someone who is the Director of the Harvard, Kennedy Media ____think tank, a Pulitzer Prize winner and fourth generation heir to a news paper family.

Ben Franklin became a publisher and journalist because he invented a more efficient movable type, or was it the other way around? HL Mencken was a "gossip" and a yellow journalist but as a 'writer' he dominated his decades and profoundly influenced the public weal and Ted Turner - well we probably shouldn't go there.

My father became a journalist after the war in Europe, studied at the Lorne Greene School for broadcasters in Toronto, yea that 'Loren Greene', anchored television news in 2 markets and retired as an Asia Post Director for the Voice of America. Computers were just on the horizon then and I remember my father complaining loudly while at the same time admiring its' enormous potential to transform journalistic art, he would have been a prolific blogger.

The 'Poynter' is this if you choose journalism as a vocation or as avocation what matters the method or the medium, as long as you care for the story and practice the craft honestly and faithfully, you are a Journalist. Professional associations, think tanks, awards aside no other manner of credential is required beyond that of your peers and your readers. We admire a blog that publishes with acumen and constancy, wheather your passion is sports or war, gardening or conservation, journal or blog as long as it remains your passion the journal is it's own voice and the voice is on-line.

Nothing speaks more graphically to the eye-of-the-storm potential of bloggers-as-journalists than the postings of the Baghdad Blogger. Journalism and opportunity are inseparable bedfellows. Whether it's on the battlefield or a convention floor, the results can be crude, even hysterical but when the dust settles a journal exists and the news has been delivered. All that remains is for the pundits and academics to catch up and write the history.