I’ve come to believe there’s a very real difference between a blogger and a blog.
The person updating a blog isn’t necessarily a blogger. Though I blog on and maintain this professional site and have certainly blogged elsewhere, I don’t consider myself a blogger.
For one, I’m a professional writer, so I’d need to be making money at the blogging game for me to get that title. Instead, I use the format to connect with readers and colleagues, discuss issues and share the content I create for newspapers, magazines and trade publications.
It’s a tool of social media, not a livelihood.
Of course, there are certainly bloggers who don’t do so as a living, so I thought it prudent to throw down some guidelines as to who I figure a blogger is and what I suppose makes a blog.
See my list, and let me know whatcha think, after the jump.
Blogger the Person
- Here’s where an outsider perspective still matters. If you live-blog event, the very notion is not being there or having more access than the casual viewer.
- Writes with a very live, informal voice
- Interjects personal into product
- Access is a big sticking point, in my opinion, to what makes a blogger. A journalist seeks access, but a blogger, I think, doesn’t. Part of being a blogger is being on the outside, so traditional journalists who pursue sources and follow leads in a traditional sense aren’t bloggers, in my mind. One isn’t better than the other, they are just different forms.
- There are professional bloggers, who do so full-time and are paid, and there are personal bloggers, who may make small sums of money but don’t see it as a major means of income, but neither should have nor pursue actively inside information, sourcing or access beyond tips and comments from involved reader
- Although I gotta say, if you run a blog full-time, you are a blogger, hands down, probably. So, a Will Bunch, who was a professional journalist and developed access, becomes a blogger once his main source of income was running Attytood for the Philadelphia Daily News. However, a journalist who maintains a blog to develop sources or share additional information, like Daniel Victor of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, remains a journalist.
- Can we just say it, a blogger ought to be a bit slovenly, right? Casual, if not downright crummy, dress, although that’s only changing.
Blog the Format
- Updates sorted in reverse-chronological order. Not by importance but by sequential order. If you start offering featured content or highlighted posts, I think things start getting murkier. A major concept of the blog is the suddenness and it’s social media apparatus. You, the writer or editor, doesn’t decide what is important, but the reader does. So tossing on a lead story changes your product from a blog, in many cases.
- Link, link, link. You can’t make a claim on a blog, unless you can link out to some source. This link economy — in which you do what you do best and link out to the rest — will have to take over all the Web, but it’s a necessity to the blog format today.
- Less formal, more voice
- First person pronouns
- Involve interaction with readers, via comments, chats or otherwise
- Graphic orientated, via multimedia as various as photos, video, charts, graphs etc.
- There are at least four forms: news (including journalists, companies and publicists), commentary (including journalists, individuals), multimedia (those devoted to non-text, including video, vlog; photography, photoblog; art, artlog, etc.) and personal (including online diaries, personally-orientated news and commentary, like this one, I suppose, and most others)
So that’s how you can contribute to a blog but not be a blogger.
For one, professional and personal blogs may likely continue to become more of a norm for professional journalists, but they don’t all become bloggers, so the distinction needs to be made. Also, too many news organizations have blogs in one form or another, but don’t have a single blogger updating it, that changes things, too.
But what am I missing? Is this true? If you write a or contribute to a blog, are you a blogger, simple as that? If you write a novel are you a novelist? If you write an essay, are you an essayist? Don’t those terms have different meanings?