Journalism (n.) – The occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
Blog (n.) – A website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.
I make these two terms available because the distinction in this day and age is dwindling. What you’re reading right now is a post on a blog. I don’t profess to do any journalism here. That’s a work thing. It’s what I do for a living. I get paid for it, and I haven’t yet found a way to monetize this blogging (I don’t have the following bigger bloggers do (yet????)). I blog here. I write at RedState and The Nerdy Bomb. What I do at those websites is somewhat a mix of journalism and opinion, but I don’t label it “Journalism.” I am clearly putting my opinion into a lot of what I write there. I take news and break it down, but there is a slant in what I write about and how I break it down. I admit this freely because, again, it is not work.
So, it bothers me when sites like DailyKos label themselves as a news site. Just take a moment to Google RedState, then Google DailyKos, and notice the difference in how they are billed. RedState bills itself as “Conservative Blog and Conservative News” and DailyKos bills itself as “News, Community, Action.” Yes, they both say news, but the former tacks the “News” part on at the end, while the latter sticks it on to the beginning to make itself look like a legitimate news site. Take, for example, this piece at Ron Johnson’s Senate website, because it is indicative of how DailyKos operates.
Nonetheless, the Kos story goes on under the impression that HIRSP closed because of Scott Walker, exulting about a victim of government who had a government health plan shut down by a governor the author dislikes. But actually, Kathi Rose did not have a government health plan. She did not “quickly discover” HIRSP, because she never bought insurance from Wisconsin’s high-risk pool. She had a regular old private-sector individual plan. We weren’t “all paying 40%” of her premiums. She paid them, because she wasn’t in the state high-risk pool. She did not lose the coverage she liked and chose because of Gov. Walker, who had nothing to do with her insurance or its loss. Any decision he made about HIRSP did not affect Kathi, because she wasn’t in the state’s high-risk pool. How do we know this? Because we asked her when we reported on her case. My staff talked to her again after the Daily Kos story, to make sure. Kathi pointed out that neither Lounsbury, nor anyone else from Daily Kos, called her. They didn’t bother to ask Kathi whether the premise of their piece attacking her was correct.
Johnson’s post, like DailyKos, is not a news site. It is clearly there to, like DailyKos and RedState, advance a cause. It also does not try to label itself as “News.” It, too, accurately calls itself a blog. The problem here is that DailyKos is caught in the act of not checking their facts and only advancing an agenda they prefer over Johnson’s. On both the Left and the Right, there are people who clearly write their opinions and list them as journalism and news writing. I don’t read Breitbart because, among other issues, they label themselves as news, although their entire premise is based on their opinion of what the news is and isn’t doing write.Breitbart, in that regard, is no different than Media Matters for America, though at least MMFA labels itself as a progressive research center while Breitbart calls itself a news network.
One of the best professors I ever had was Ray Strother, who some political pundits might recognize as the guy who invented modern political consulting.When it comes to delivering a message, he is one of the better strategists out there. Politically, I disagree with him on a lot. He was a Democratic consultant, and I’m a Republican. But in terms of writing, he and I only disagree on one thing. He once told me journalism is supposed to be a call to action. I believe journalism is supposed to report on the facts and, if it inspires people to do something, then so be it.
If you’re all about a call to action, I’m sorry, but you’re not a source of news first. You’re just spinning something to fit your agenda. Just like this post is doing.