Everyone seems to have a blog, independent music publication or website that operates as an outlet for news.
While the growth of the internet allows access to various platforms to create these avenues, is it really beneficial to the public? Citizen journalism is a trend where everyday people will disseminate certain events on their own by utilizing the internet, instead of going through a traditional news outlet.
For music news, this trend is common because of the benefits that are linked with operating a free-standing site and is their own editor.
But what sets each apart from established sources like “RockSound,” “Alternative Press,” and “Rolling Stone” from stand alone publications and blogs?
Well it begins with identifying the terms: Blogger, Journalist and Writer.
Beginning with the Blogger
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says a blogger is “a person who writes for and maintains a blog.”
Despite this obvious assumption to what a blogger is, the root noun, blog, paints a better portrait of what our friendly neighborhood music blogger does with two different definitions. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says “a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer,” the second definition says “a regular feature appearing as part of an online publication that typically relates to a particular topic and consists of articles and personal commentary by one or more authors.”
Blogging essentially is more personal and biased compared to articles that would be found on “Rolling Stones” sites for example.
Starting up a music blog is easier thanks to web-building sites like WordPress and Wix where an aspiring photographer, music reviewer or any creator can mold their online presence to reflect how they want to be seen as in the music industry.
So question: is a blogger also a writer?
Whittling a Writer
In Frank Magill’s book “Cyclopedia of World Authors” he says “writers produce various forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, poetry, plays, screenplays, and essays as well as various reports and news articles that may be of interest to the public.”
Writers write imaginative and prose pieces. These stories can be embedded in fantasy or non-fiction and don’t often adhere to providing factual information in the writing.
Can a blogger be a writer? Yes. A blogger can write creative works on their site.
Can either be a journalist?
Some fans of Adam22 and DJ Akademiks describe them as music journalists yet the reporter of this article, Elijah C. Watson, says they aren’t. The two entertainers collaborated on a podcast and other indie media outlets but also are known for their provocative social media posts about celebrities.
Watson says “the two are not tied to any of journalism’s ethics or standards, allowing them a freedom in their coverage that can lead to messy results.”
Arguably, writers have their own ethical values. However it can vary writer to writer on what they view as morally sound, whereas journalists adhere to rigid guidelines that are in place are done so to streamline their stories for massive release whether it be local, regional or international.
Justifying A Journalist
Thanks to Fake News it’s a difficult time for journalists.
Remember Pizzagate and Twitter “reporting” that led to a man trying to break up an imaginary child-sex ring? What about the Arab Spring where smartphones were used to showcase the uprisings in the Middle East in 2011?
One generated false information and witch hunts on everyday people, the other produced hard-hitting commentary on a blacked out area of the world that had no other way of revealing the reality of what was going on.
This new way of reporting has a split reception on the good and bad it produces in breaking news stories that may not be seen in a traditional news outlet without this guerilla reporting.
A journalist has a responsibility to verify information and facts, be objective and have their work reviewed by an editor or peer before publication.
When this is done for music journalists the same rules apply when it comes to fact-checking and providing as-objective-as-possible reporting.
Although the infamous story by a “Rolling Stones” journalist, “A Rape On Campus,” calls into question about ethical journalism practices. The falsified story led to a settlement of $1.65 million to the fraternity accused. The reporter who wrote the story, Sabrina Erdely apologized for not fact-checking information; she still writes for the music magazine.
Mis-reporting triggers continuing problems for journalists who look to report important events through an open lens. Their stories can primarily be found in newspapers, journals or magazines and use AP Style instead of the traditional style, which is used to write items like essays or memos.
Why do journalists divert from the norm and write in a different form?
DELETE THE OXFORD COMMA!
AP Style writing doesn’t use the oxford comma as often as in traditional writing techniques. It is done so for ease of reading and is slightly comparable to how online comments on social media are written.
Dates such as Oct. 9 don’t include the th at the end of the number and months are appropriately abbreviated. Articles are written in the inverted pyramid style with the most important or updated news at the beginning of the article, and re-stating older information near the end.
Why are journalists writing with a different set of rules? Stanton Communications says newspapers are the most accessible, free form of information without the online echo-chamber each individual creates based on their news preferences.
Newspapers are written to accomodate to those who may not have a high reading level as well. The literacy project, Impact Information says “the average newspaper is written at the 11th-grade level, the tolerable limit for a 9th-grade reader.”
Bloggers and writers adhere to whatever their minds and hearts desire. Whereas journalists have their handy-dandy AP Style rule book to help with writing for the mass general public.
Do many indie publications write in AP Style? No.
Many of these publications do include essays, film reviews and other types of writing styles which wouldn’t typically be in AP format. Originative content on blogs and indie sites still cause conversation and diversity which would otherwise not be allowed in a classic mass media forum.
Experimenting with HTML code to develop a blog is one step forward to growing into a journalist. Hashing out essays is another way to cite sources. Having an editor use red pen to mark-up the first article draft is the label of a journalist.