Why Bloggers Can't Replace the Work of Professional Journalists

Together they can provide good information to news consumers

Politician talking into reporters' microphones
Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

When blogs first appeared on the internet, there was a lot of hype and hoopla about how bloggers might somehow replace traditional news outlets. After all, blogs were spreading like mushrooms at the time, and almost overnight there seemed to be thousands of bloggers online, chronicling the world as they saw fit with each new post.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, we can now see that blogs were never in a position to replace news organizations. But bloggers, the good ones at least, can supplement the work of professional reporters. And that's where citizen journalism comes in.

But let's first deal with why blogs can't replace traditional news outlets.

They Produce Different Content

The problem with having blogs replace newspapers is that most bloggers don't produce news stories on their own. Instead, they tend to comment on news stories already out there — stories produced by professional journalists. Indeed, much of what you find on many blogs are posts based on, and linking back to, articles from news websites.

Professional journalists hit the streets of the communities they cover on a daily basis in order to dig up stories important to the people living there. The stereotypical blogger is someone who sits at their computer in their pajamas, never leaving home. That stereotype isn't fair to all bloggers, but the point is that being a real reporter involves finding new information, not just commenting on information that's already out there.

There's a Difference Between Opinions and Reporting

Another stereotype about bloggers is that in place of original reporting, they do little but vent their opinions about the issues of the day. Again, this stereotype isn't totally fair, but many bloggers do spend most of their time sharing their subjective thoughts.

Expressing one's opinion is very different from doing objective news reporting. And while opinions are fine, blogs that do little more than editorializing won't satisfy the public hunger for objective, factual information.

There's Immense Value in Reporters' Expertise

Many reporters, especially those at the largest news organizations, have followed their beats for years. So whether it's a Washington bureau chief writing about White House politics or a longtime sports columnist covering the latest draft picks, chances are they can write with authority because they know the subject.

Now, some bloggers are experts on their chosen topics as well. But much more are amateur observers who follow developments from afar. Can they write with the same kind of knowledge and expertise as a reporter whose job it is to cover that topic? Probably not.

How Can Bloggers Supplement the Work of Reporters?

As newspapers downsize into leaner operations using fewer reporters, they are increasingly using bloggers to supplement the content provided on their websites.

For instance, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer several years back closed down its printing press and became a web-only news organization. But in the transition the newsroom staff was cut dramatically, leaving the P-I with far fewer reporters.

So the P-I website turned to read blogs to supplement its coverage of the Seattle area. The blogs are produced by local residents who know their chosen topic well.

Meanwhile, many professional reporters now run blogs hosted on their newspaper's websites. They use these blogs too, among other things, complement their daily hard-news reporting.

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Your Citation
Rogers, Tony. "Why Bloggers Can't Replace the Work of Professional Journalists." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/bloggers-professional-journalists-2074116. Rogers, Tony. (2020, August 27). Why Bloggers Can't Replace the Work of Professional Journalists. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/bloggers-professional-journalists-2074116 Rogers, Tony. "Why Bloggers Can't Replace the Work of Professional Journalists." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/bloggers-professional-journalists-2074116 (accessed March 25, 2023).