Friday, February 15, 2008

Athletes to Blog in Beijing

The International Olympic Committee announced on Friday that athletes will be permitted to blog during the Beijing Olympic Games this August. An unattributed quote from the IOC states, "The IOC considers blogging ... as a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism."

Is the IOC is correct in narrowly defining who is and who is not a journalist?

Scott Gant, a constitutional and media lawyer, wrote an excellent argument for extending government access privileges normally afforded only to mainstream media to bloggers as well. He distinguishes between the function of journalism and the profession of journalism. Among his arguments is the notion that a profession denotes licensure (i.e. lawyer, doctor) and today's mainstream journalists, as well as advocates of the First Amendment, would not advocate a system where the government decides who, and who is not, is a journalist.

Obviously, the IOC is a private organization and not a national government, so the comparison may not be entirely appropriate. However, all of this gets to the fundamental question of whether or not a blogger is a journalist.

By subscribing to the traditional definition of journalism (and the IOC's point of view), clearly bloggers are not. But in a new media age, bloggers are functioning as journalists. Athletes posting pictures taken inside the Olympic Village or in the athlete-only areas of a competition venue are showcasing areas not available to officially accredited members of the media at an Olympic Games. That certainly makes those pictures newsworthy and, dare I say, makes the individuals who publish them quasi-journalists.


Post a Comment

<< Home