I really don’t like being called a journalist because I am not a journalist. I don’t consider myself to be one. I remember when I got my first job and I started to write articles, people flooded my Facebook page with questions of why I suddenly turned over to journalism. If you are unaware of my journey to find the perfect career, you won’t understand why they were asking me such questions. I’ve had jobs in different unrelated fields. That’s a story for another day.
Back to being called a journalist. Anytime people posted questions asking me why I decided to become a journalist, I used to tell them point blank, “I am a writer, not a journalist.” Those conversations never ended well. The people in question would unleash a long train of argument in order to convince me that I was really a journalist. Back then I used to post news stories. I didn’t investigate those stories neither were they totally my words. We used to do what is called headline watching. Any breaking news that comes up, we’ll quickly do a short post on it and link back to the original source. So I used to ask myself, “Is that journalism?” Some people believe that as long as you are writing news then you are a journalist.
I remember a while ago when there was this debate as to whether Linda Ikeji should be classified as a journalist or not. Blogging has brought a new dimension to journalism which further makes the distinction blurry. Bloggers curate news or trending topics and post on the go. It was formerly believed that bloggers didn’t have any duty to confirm the authenticity of the news they post while journalists have a higher standard of professionalism to meet. That has changed as people are now requiring a higher standard of professionalism from bloggers too.
So what then is the difference between a journalist and a blogger? I don’t think there is any clear difference because, like I mentioned earlier, the lines are blurred. Some argue that it all comes down to the issue of accessibility. Bloggers differ from journalists because they are able to report or write about news as it breaks. Traditional journalists don’t have that kind of luxury. But the same ethical standards are required from both. Then there is the issue of training. Most bloggers don’t undergo any form of formal training. At least, I have not heard of someone who went to study ‘Blogging’ for four years in one fancy university. All you need is a good internet connection, a laptop/ tablet and a WordPress/ blogger account and you’re already on your way to becoming a blogger. Journalists go through more intense training.
Then we have the category of people like me – writers. You can say that journalists and bloggers are writers when you breakdown what they do but I think being a writer goes beyond writing alone. There is a creative element to it. I think the difference here lies in the process and nature of work. Writers write from their heart and not their brain. It sounds a bit mushy but it’s the truth. For example, although I have a blog, I don’t write about the latest news or trends in the world. I could if I feel inspired to but I write things as they come to me. Call them musings if you like. Being a content writer and manager, I also write according to the brief given to me by my client. I seek to educate people in the area of my passion and calling. That is why I prefer to be called a writer. I can still accept being called a blogger to an extent but a journalist? No way.
These are just my thoughts on the difference between these three fields. You may have a different opinion and I would love to hear it. If you have a blog, do you consider yourself to be a journalist? If yes, why? Also, is it possible for someone to be all three given the subtle differences that exist? Let’s discuss.