Is Blogging Lazy Person’s Journalism?

Posted by Nancy D. Brown
Is blogging the lazy person’s journalism?  As a freelance writer and blogger, my answer to this question is no.  I take as much time writing a blog post as I do writing a newspaper article.  An editor for Wine Spectator magazine recently posted to their online forum that blogging is a lazy person’s journalism.  Here is what I had to say about that subject at OpenWine Consortium.

“This is the problem with the ‘blogosphere’,” according to Wine Spectator Senior Editor James Molesworth. “It’s a lazy person’s journalism. No one does any real research, but rather they just slap some hyperlinks up and throw a little conjecture at the wall, and presto! you get some hits and traffic.”

Admittedly, Molesworth was licking his wounds on the August 20, 2008 Wine Spectator online forum after the trade magazine gave an “Award of Excellence” to a non-existent restaurant in Milan, Italy.  Wine writer Robin Goldstein entered Osteria L’Intrepido and its fake menu in the magazine’s restaurant awards competition, paying the $250 entry fee, as part of the research for an academic paper Goldstein was working on about standards for wine awards.
Wine Spectator Executive Editor Thomas Mathews called the hoax an act of malicious duplicity and defended the magazine’s reputation stating, “we do not claim to visit every restaurant in our awards program.”
Perhaps the Wine Spectator’s public relations department should be in touch with “Do Travel Writer’s Go To Hell” author Thomas Kohnstamm.  Kohnstamm referenced his lack of actual fact checking for some of his Lonely Planet guidebooks and was skewered in the travel blogging and writing community.
It’s seems ironic to me that Molesworth is labeling bloggers as lazy journalists, stating that “no one does any real research,” while his own magazine awarded a non-existent restaurant with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.  Perhaps people who work in glass cubicles should not be casting stones upon the blogging community?
I’ll be attending the Wine Bloggers Conference on October 24-26 in Sonoma County, California.  One of the purposes of the conference is to bring together wine bloggers, new media innovators and wine industry leaders to share experiences and lessons learned.
Photo by rhettmaxwell via Flickr (creative commons.)
READ  Surfland Hotel Review Lincoln City

15 thoughts on “Is Blogging Lazy Person’s Journalism?”

  1. Blogging can be lazy journalism just like there are lazy journalists working for traditional media outlets; it all depends on the writer involved. It never ceases to amaze me how traditional journalists are so dismissive of blogs and bloggers. They just can’t seem to get their heads around the reality that the publishing world has been democratized, and that the news is no longer the exclusive realm of traditional media.For what it’s worth, I should add that I was a newspaper reporter for more than 15 years.Mark

  2. Hi Mark,Thanks for stopping by from Planet Eye. Some ‘old school’ journalists have been slow to embrace new media. Unfortunately, the newspaper business is struggling; some will adapt, others will die.

  3. I used to have a sniffy attitude about blogging. I once told a writerly friend that it was the equivalent of singing to your refrigerator.Now I am KICKING myself for not jumping on the bandwagon earlier.

  4. I am kind of in awe of a publication that can give an award to a restaurant that has never, apparently, been visited by anyone.As far as blogging being lazy journalism, it depends on whether or not one understands the concept of blogging. Some blogs are only meant to point to the news, while others give their opinion on a subject and still point to other stories on the web that either back up their view or give another point of view. This criticism of blogging and bloggers happens in the travel writing world a lot. Old school travel writers have no clue about the (and sometimes long term) value of posting a piece on a blog. PR people aren’t getting it much either. I am more likely to read a blog post about a destination than an article in a magazine or newspaper. I tend to write both researched posts and off-the-cuff posts, depending on the subject. And I have separate categories for them. I admit to being an early adopter, and coming from paper pub I embrace web publishing whole heartedly – it lasts longer, saves on paper, and is good for the environment too!

  5. I recently worked on a project where I wrote press materials. During my research for that project I found that many journalists had done nothing more than copy, paste, and marginally edit the copy written for last’s years project for the same client. I was sort of horrified and also, cynically unsurprised. There are lazy bloggers. There are lazy journalists. Being a blogger doesn’t make you lazy by default any more than being a journalist ensures that you do your homework by default. Just sayin.

  6. I have to agree with you both. Some people are lazy. Some lazy people work as paid journalists and some work as bloggers. Others do exceptional work, and I think there are different ways to get that work out in the public eye.You don’t have to look too far to see examples of exceptional work published on a blog. For example, check out the work ZRecs did on BPA-free feeding accessories. They have become the go to source for accurate information on this subject. http://zrecs.blogspot.com/2008/02/z-report-on-bpa-in-infant-care-products.htmlHere is some great reporting on DaddyTypes about the recent Simplicity crib recall. Greg took the time to go past the CPSC’s recall report and research Simplicity’s claimshttp://daddytypes.com/2008/08/28/after_two_strangulations_and_corporate_shrugging_cpsc_orders_retailers_pull_simplicity_co-sleepers_off_market.phpI started my own blog to serve a niche that I felt wasn’t well served by mainstream media (parents who travel with their kids). In addition to being able to cover that topic in more depth than most media outlets could, I have done investigative legwork on rental car agencies who rent unsafe car seats to their customers gotten my stories picked up by the media. This issue specifically has been an open secret in the industry for years, but until now, I’m not aware of anyone who has documented it in depth. My hope is that shining a bright light on the issue will convince the agencies to change their ways.Here’s an example:http://www.deliciousbaby.com/journal/2008/jul/27/danger-rent-car-rental-agency-puts-infant-risk/I don’t have the training or experience of a seasoned reporter (though I get better at it with each story), but I certainly wouldn’t say I’ve been lazy about going out and getting the scoop.Debbie

  7. @ JamieDon’t kick yourself any longer. You and Travelsavvymom are now on the bandwagon.Join in the parade!

  8. @ KimbaThanks for your comments. As an accredited member of the Public Relations Society of America, that’s APR if anyone cares, I completely agree with your comment that PR people are not quick to grasp the value of posting on a blog. I have their attention when I mention a glossy magazine or newspaper column, but when I say that I contribute to online magazines, their eyes glaze over.

  9. @ DebbieDeliciousbaby is a perfect example of a niche blog filling a void in the mainstream media. I love how your blog post was picked up by a twitter follower, who happened to be a blogger for the LA Times. As Sheila Scarborough says, every dot connects.

  10. Chris Christensen (Amateur Traveler podcast)

    Oh that is just too priceless. They may not claim to visit every restaurant explicitly but I’ll bet their readers assumed there was some implication that the restaurants they reviewed at least existed. Perhaps next years version should have a disclaimer. The existence of some restaurants listed may be exaggerated.

  11. @chris2x You’re right. I’ve seen the Wine Spectator plaques in restaraunts before I always thought they seemed impressive… now I know they just mean that someone paid an expensive contest entry fee

  12. I do not want to be classified as a journalist, or a travel writer, can I not just continue to be called a blogger please. I think there’s bloggers who want to pretend that they are a journalist and travel writer, well let them think that but in my eyes blogging is nothing to do with journalism.Am I lazy. Yep. Do I care about grammar and spelling. Not a great deal. Do I spend hours upon researching. Nah, I can’t be bothered. I am happy being a blogger, and would not want to change.

  13. Beth Blair (DesertMama)

    Interesting topic. I’ve heard most blogs rarely last three months. I’m not sure what the latest statistics are, but would love to know.Speaking from experience, my three cohorts and I have found our blog has only helped our professional travel-writing platforms.

  14. I used to get really frustrated when I was doing travel research and my search results turned up blog posts. Where are the real journalists writing about this topic, I yelled at my computer screen. I soon learned that the People Have Spoken. Yes, there is a good bit of crap on blogs and on the internet in general. However, blogs, forums and websites tend to reflect the wisdom of the crowd. I toss out the radical reviews and opinions as well as the glowing ones and somehow find the truth in the middle.In the end, the blogs that last and gain traffic are usually the ones providing well written and interesting content.It’s Darwin at work. Let’s just hope that in the meantime, people don’t believe EVERYTHING they read and try to find that fake restaurant :-)Oh, and I have to say that I’m totally amazed at the number of phone calls and emails I receive from companies who want me to review their vacation properties and products sight unseen.Beth

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