Oh, Kyle. This Is What Your Private Twitter Account Is For.
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I Am Not a Journalist

It has been asked, by local media mavens and anonymous assholes alike, what the hell I'm doing at CBS 5. A comment I made in response to someone who asked me why I wasn't doing any "newsgathering" at the station perhaps can clear that up:

[M]y role here is to read, promote, highlight and otherwise cover the local blogosphere. We have a bevy of talented and tenacious reporters and producers on staff who do a fantastic job at newsgathering. By having someone reading hyperlocal blogs in house, CBS 5 can be aware of myriad local issues that no news team can thoroughly cover 100% of the time. Thanks to blogs like Claycord.com, and CBS 5's willingness to listen to area bloggers and have a relationship with them, newgathering can be a symbiotic process--not to mention a new and exciting one. I like the notion that a news team is listening to local citizens who might just know better than they do what is going on in their neighborhoods. It shows respect for the viewer and a real concern for the community.

You want to know something? I'm a shitty newsgatherer. Hard news is not my bag. My degree is in magazine journalism, a certificate I got in hopes of writing long-form profile pieces, or maybe film criticism. This blogging in a newsroom thing fell into my lap, but never once have I ever stated that I am a reporter. I am not. I don't even consider myself a journalist.

Because I publish for a news station, people want to box me in to what *they* think newsroom employees should be. I'm the first to admit that an opinionated blogger in the newsroom is a jolt to an age-old system, but I'm just doing the job I've been asked to do. Which is to cover the local blogosphere the best way I know how--by blogging about it.

Here's the thing, though: I don't have to do any original reporting for the station to benefit. The Bay Area is crawling with people passionate about their communities. They have their feelers out, covering the legislature, watching their streets and otherwise covering the San Francisco-area like a blanket. In fact, there are so many awesome local bloggers out there breaking and reporting news that you need a human to point you to the best and most important stuff. This, my friends, is my job.

Sure, I could provide more and better original content. I could do longer, more thoroughly researched pieces. I have vast room for improvement. I am too often lured by the pressure to post more and more often, and my work suffers for it from time to time. I can be lazy; it's true. But I don't feel like the way I need to improve is by doing shoeleather reporting. There are better folks at that than me, and I've got other things to offer. I'm not the best writer in the world, nor am I all that funny. I'll agree with you there. But I won't agree that I need to be out "doing real reporting," because my title is blogger. Not reporter. Let's leave real reporting to the experts--the working journalists and the citizen ones who live and work and play in the communities they cover.

UPDATE #1: Here's how my job as a non-journalist blogger pays off:

I never liked channel 5.I was always a ktvu kind of guy. But ever since I started reading claycord I've noticed they cover our area better than anybody else,and now I watch them every night and read their website everyday.

KTVU is #1 in this market. Sure, this is just one person's account, but this is a new way of winning viewers in the digital age--proving your trust as a news providers in innovative ways.


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Couple key things to remember here. First, the definition of "reporter" is in a state of flux -- probably more so than at any time since news reporting was professionalized. It's totally possible that "blogger" will become universally recognized as just another non-remarkable journalistic role in short order (and some would argue that this is already happening).

Second, lots of news orgs (mostly larger orgs -- i.e., not local TV stations) have always made a distinction between news-gathering and news-writing. There's also the concept of analysis and opinion, which is totally journalistic, although some uninformed people try to argue that it isn't. (These people usually make their opinions known when you say something they disagree with.) The point is that all of the members of this food chain may correctly call themselves "journalists".

Finally, Brittney, as a pioneer, your situation is fairly unique, so you should have the most say about your role, your job title, and where you fit in.

I get what you're saying, you aren't out collecting "news". What you're saying is you aren't a "reporter" but your job perfectly fits the definition of a journalist. You're good at it, and you shouldn't hesitate to call yourself one.


2 a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

"We sift through hundreds of sites on a daily basis, offering up links to and commentary on the brightest, funniest, most engaging posts made by local bloggers, while providing a place to interact and converse about the issues of the day." - Eye On Blogs

You "sift through" and "offer up" (edit) and "offer commentary" (write) on the "most engaging posts" (appealing to public interest).

It may not be Pulitzer work but you do gather information (which blogs said what) for a major news outlet for dissemination to the public, and sometimes offer commentary on those posts. Sounds like a journalist to me.

I think it's easier just to think of being a writer who occasionally practices journalism. You can dabble in whatever forms suit your piece.

Well, I can at least say that I watch KPIX in the morning because of you, or maybe because of the traffic ladies bust size. Either way, I did initially tune to them in hopes of better ratings...more revenue...lasting Brittney employment.

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