Are Bloggers “Media?”

Are bloggers members of the “media?” That’s a tough question.

The blogging trend is still fairly new (in the grand scheme), and bloggers are as often considered “snarks in bunnyslippers” as they are legitimate information sources. In a recent tweet, Paul Gillin (who has the credentials to know) made a compelling distinction: “Most bloggers know more about a topic than reporters, who switch beats all the time. Reporters are resourceful; bloggers are knowledgeable.”

Geoff Livingston agreed: “Bloggers are not media, and should be treated differently. Different goals, readership, rules.”

In other words: the question of whether bloggers are media is moot.

Bloggers are DIFFERENT from the mainstream media. They are smart, expert, passionate, independent, talented, and cantankerous. They have their own agenda, whereas journalists (while they share many of the traits listed above) are beholden to a publisher’s agenda.

More to the point: whatever else ya call them, bloggers are influential.

We’ve evolved (quickly!) from a situation in which the mainstream media complained about having their content “scavenged” by bloggers, to an era in which reporters look to the blogosphere to vet the facts, themes & memes of their own prospective stories.

A so-called “hit” in a blog is often as valuable as a “hit” in a mainstream publication. (In fact, we recently placed a client story in a national morning show AND in the Perez Hilton blog, and consumer response to the latter outstripped traffic gains from the “big” hit in the mainstream outlet!)

So – no, most bloggers are not media. (I would argue, however, that blogs like TechCrunch, Huffington Post, etc. do meet that gold standard.) But, they are just as important as media. From PR pros, bloggers deserve and require different approaches that are more creative and respectful than anything that’s gone before.
The most common area where this “bloggers as media” question comes up is at trade shows. Do you give ‘em a press badge?

Yea, you set some minimum requirements for longevity and authority, but you do give them a press badge. They have knowledge, enthusiasm, a publication (of sorts) and readers. Those characteristics alone may not make them “press” in the traditional sense, but these are nontraditional times: rather than penalize someone for not fitting established norms, why not encourage their passion and creativity, which only help promote the industry and the event?

Are bloggers media? Maybe not. Maybe they’re better. [From Are Bloggers “Media?”]