Next weekend I'll be at Blognashville, helping out the Media Bloggers Association, where the question will be asked again, "Is blogging journalism?"
Short answer. No.
It can be, of course.
When journalists blog, when we ask hard questions, dig for facts, and take mistakes seriously, well then yes journalism can happen on a blog. (Cartoon from Cox and Forkum.com,)
But a blog can be a diary. If you invite just a few people to post, and those same people are all who can read it, a blog is groupware.
A blog can be a community. Let a lot of people offer posts, organize the comments, add polls and ratings.
A blog can be your picture collection. It can be a record of what you saw today.
And that is not all, oh no, that is not all...
A blog can be a store. Put in specials, new arrivals, tips and techniques as your articles, link out to your inventory, put a cash register at the back, and voila!
To say that a blog is any one thing is to misunderstand what a blog is.
A blog is instant publishing. A blog lets anyone post any type of digital file -- text, pictures, sound, video -- simply, attractively, without having to know HTML.
To say a blog is journalism is like saying web pages are journalism. Journalism can happen on Web pages, and on blogs, in lots of places. Not everything that's printed is journalism. Not everything that's broadcast is journalism. Yet we have print and broadcast journalism. It's the same with blogging software.
What a blog is depends on the precise software being used, the person running the site, and what features they turn on. Look here -- no organized comments, barely a blogroll. Of course it's still a blog. Since it's done by a journalist, who is doing journalism on the page, it's both a blog and journalism. If the same person only put here pictures of their cat, or fictional stories they had written, it would still be a blog, only not journalism.
All blogging does is hide the complexity of the underlying Web format from the page creator. The software can let you eliminate gatekeepers -- Web designers, editors, publishers -- but if you like you can still have them. And more. You can run a whole staff, of any sort, on blogging software. It's all good.
So is blogging journalism?
Of course, as the journalist Chris Berman (right, from his alma mater) once said so famously in an ESPN ad there are no stupid questions.
Only stupid people who ask questions.