Meta-Post: Are ‘link-bloggers’ journalists?

FROM OUT OF LEFT FIELD, a colleague posed a seemingly softball question that sat up as high and fat as if lofted by Larry King. The meat pitch boiled down to this:

“Are ‘link bloggers’ journalists?”

Of course they aren’t, I replied, swinging instinctively. People who link-blog exclusively — God bless ‘em — are merely aggregating the journalistic work of others. Even the cleanest photocopy of an original doesn’t make the replication the real thing.

The colleague was responding to a heavily link-dependent and -driven niche entertainment blog (movies, comics, etc.) being cited for its “journalism.”

Since I know a little something about “niche entertainment,” I launched into a Four-Point Soliloquy that went something like this:

1. Aggregation-addicted “link blogs” cannot be considered journalism because they consist of tiny, briefed items heavily linked. And those are wee textual creatures you’d never find in a newspaper — well, never mind that. Simply consider that...

2. Aggregation-happy “link blogs” aren’t journalism because all reporting in newspapers is original and never pulled from other — okay, bad example. But just mull the fact that...

3. Aggregation-addled “link blogs” cannot qualify as capital-J Journalism because online, no respectable newspaper ever just runs sexy headlines with a little story just to get a few clicks — wait, what I mean to say is...

4. Journalistic blogs offer deeper information and insight and intelligence and context — from on-the-ground reporting to carefully considered commentary and analysis.

Finally. I inhaled my relief. The answer proved as perilous as the act of defining oneself in the muddied valley bisecting black-and-white journalism and blue-underscored aggregation in 2012. I had made my point so abundantly clear, I felt, my completely persuaded colleague promised to do one thing with my blustering and windy filibustering.

He said he might just LINK to it.

(ED. NOTE: Warning: Every so often, riff-happy journalistic blogs include the faintest whiff of satire.)

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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