When Journalism and Blogging Collide

Of Course Reporters Have Opinions

By Published on .

Laura Martinez Laura Martinez
If you were to submit a simple Google query with the phrase Should Journalists Blog? you will find millions of pages, blogs, dedicated sites and even academic papers on the subject. They are as varied as the web itself and run the gamut from advocating tougher rules for bloggers to invoking the First Amendment and calling bloggers the journalists of the new millennium.

Personally, the only reason why I recently engaged in such a query had to do with a letter that was sent out from the Board of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies to the publisher of Advertising Age, Scott Donaton. In the missive AHAA argues that "as an Ad Age reporter covering news and editorial material related to our Hispanic ad industry [...] it is questionable whether Ms. Martinez can actually report objectively on Hispanic media matters when she has publicly stated such strong negative opinions about its content."

The letter, a response to this post, was not addressed to me, but it managed to make its way into the blogosphere.

Leaving aside some inaccuracies, (e.g. I am not an Ad Age reporter, though I do occasional freelance work for the publication; and my experience is not based on "two hours or morning daytime Hispanic TV viewing" but over 30 years of being exposed to it), I think AHAA's concern is reflective of something that journalists and editors take for granted but is less obvious among mainstream audiences: News reporting and blogging are two different "animals," and one does not -- and should not -- discredit or preclude the other.

I concede I am in a particularly tough spot: Unlike many of my fellow Big Tent bloggers, who either own or work in a multicultural agency, I am a professional journalist who writes -- albeit objectively and dispassionately-- about the industry. And although this puts me in a delicate position, I am by no means alone. Go to any of your favorite publications online and you'll find that some -- if not most -- of their top reporters, editors and freelance writers are also blogging, whether about their respective beats or just about anything else.

Put aside the fact that journalists are, for the most part, normal people. As such, they all have opinions -- often very strong ones -- about the subjects they cover. Blogging does not betray journalistic values of objectivity, nor puts a bias on how journalists cover their beats. Should this be the case -- and for the sake of staying on the Hispanic market -- we wouldn't have Univision anchors MarĂ­a Elena Salinas or Jorge Ramos authoring weekly opinion pieces in newspapers nationwide in which they make very clear their position on issues such as immigration or Latin American politics. The points they raise and the discussions they engage are important, whether you agree with them or not, simply because they are a point of view. I seriously doubt Univision viewers put their work as news reporters on the line because they chose to express an opinion.

My experience with blogging is relatively new, but I have come to realize it has helped me better understand my audience. And, by allowing readers to comment directly on what I write, I have managed to have an ongoing "conversation" with them, learning what hits or what misses the mark; and most importantly what touches a nerve. (What's the point of just patting each other on the back all the time?)

Needless to say, this has not, nor ever will taint my position as an objective observer of the ever-evolving Hispanic industry, which, by the way, is so not used to criticism.

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Read more from Laura daily at Mi Blog Es Tu Blog.
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