Is a blogger a journalist?

A hot topic about news in the news, and in blogs, is: Are bloggers journalists? The debate may be pointless. Some are, some never will be and an increasing number are reaching a point of convergence.

A what? As the newsroom resources at legacy newspapers – and even their companion websites – declines, a news coverage gap emerges, says Vadim Lavrusik of Mashable.com. So-called citizen journalism sites are growing, with some traditional news websites aggregating these blogs as a routine source of information for their readers.

“The two roles and distinctions are merging, and eventually we may no longer see the shallow and stereotypical references of bloggers who sit in their basements and write about what they had for breakfast,” notes Lavrusik. “The truth is more bloggers are going out and doing original reporting, while traditional journalists are beginning to see the value in curation and are blogging themselves, though probably not from their mother’s basements.”

As “community journalism” sites expand, more bloggers are striving to impose professional and ethical standards upon their work, says Michele McLellan, a one-time reporter and editor at The Oregonian, and now a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

“We're also seeing start-ups that attempt to mix community building with professional standards of reporting. Oakland Local is one example [of] such an experiment,” she says. “In its first four months of existence it has built an impressive following and offered content that would not otherwise be available to East Bay residents.”

For public relations professionals, the never-ending question is: Where can I place my story? Pitching to news-oriented bloggers now is a bigger part of the answer.

Next Tuesday, July 20, "How to Pitch to Bloggers" is the timely topic of a luncheon hosted by the Portland chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). “What ethical guidelines do they employ when writing a story?” PRSA asks. Answering the question are:

Julian Chadwick of PDX Pipeline, a Portland entertainment and events site;

Kari Aakre, who works for Intel’s global communications group; and,

Melissa Lion, who is part of the CMD Earned Media department.