In a story about the Michael Vick dog fighting allegations and his NFL suspension, MSNBC ran a quote that they attributed to the Rev. Al Sharpton, which stated:
“If the police caught Brett Favre (a white quarterback for the Green Bay Packers) running a dolphin-fighting ring out of his pool, where dolphins with spears attached to their foreheads fought each other, would they bust him? Of course not.”
MSNBC said the quote came from Sharpton’s “personal blog.” Which, of course, it didn’t—it came from a site that is clearly a parody site. The post on News Groper is so obviously a parody I can’t imagine who thought it was actually Rev. Sharpton’s blog. On the page, it has listed Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Lindsey Lohan, Dalia Lama, Paris Hilton, Mitt Romney, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as “featured bloggers.” Seriously, no one at MSNBC said “hey…wait a minute…”?
The debate over the difference between bloggers and journalists is a false dichotomy. ANYONE who is willing to do the research, ask the questions, check the facts and publish the results is a journalist.
That automatically disqualifies any number of bloggers and people who are paid journalists.
As I always said to new reporters and people wanting to go into journalism: The actual basic skills of journalism aren’t that hard to learn. What is hard to learn is to think critically. That’s why I ALWAYS encourage people who want to become journalists not to major in journalism but in something that will teach you to think. Most of the rest you can learn on the job.