Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Blogging is not journalism'

(H/T: Extreme Mortman vis Instapundit.) Mike Barnicle, who was forced to resign from the Boston Globe in a plagiarism scandal, presumes to lecture Sarah Palin about what is and is not journalism:

BARNICLE: [S]omeone ought to tell governor Palin that there’s a distinction between blogging and what she refers to as journalism. Blogging –
MIKA: Is not journalism!
BARNICLE: I would say 95%; maybe 99% of blogging is basically therapy for the blogger.
MIKA: And it’s anonymous, isn’t it?
BARNICLE: Yeah. You know.

Matthew Yglesias rightly notes that the people who most furiously insist on the distinction between blogging and journalism are commentators -- including columnists like Mike Barnicle -- since, let's face it, the blogosphere has really eaten the commentariat's lunch over the past five years.

On the way to making that good point, however, Yglesias hops back aboard his hobby horse of derogating the value of on-the-scene campaign coverage, a criticism that puts Yglesias into the therapeutic mode. As much as I dislike "pack journalism" -- the competitive scrum where everyone's covering the same story -- it inarguably has value. Everybody's filing 700 words about the same rally in Bumblyburg, Ohio, but everybody's not filing the same 700 words, and in the multiplicity of stories, you can find The Big Picture.

Yglesias also uses the term "crack investigative reporter" in a way that suggests he doesn't actually know what he's talking about. It's the Woodward and Bernstein Syndrome, the mythology of an "investigative reporter" as something separate and distinct from, say, a cops-and-courts reporter who gets a big scoop.

Cover your beat, work the phones, develop your sources, look for an exclusive and follow up -- that's investigative reporting and every good reporter does it, whether they're covering sports or the Pentagon. Thinking of investigative journalism as a function separate from regular reporting is a luxury that developed during the era of overcrowded newsrooms, and which won't survive in the lean-and-mean times ahead for the news business.


  1. Anonymous? So what is your real name McCain? Heh.

    The talking heads especially the liberal ones are so full of themselves. Mika & Barnicle act like they are big journalists! What is a journalist anymore? It is a dinosaur if they don't think for themselves. Sadly most don't and they may as well be a steamboat captain when it comes to their job prospects.

  2. So sitting in the press room waiting for Dana Perino to drop of the President's statement isn't "crack investigative reporter"?