Thursday, October 18, 2012

‘What’s the difference between a columnist and a blogger?’

Steve Buttry poses an interesting question, blogging at The Buttry Diary: “What’s the difference between a columnist and a blogger?”

I think Buttry has successfully highlighted some differences between columns and blogs. I am new to blogging, having first had my opinions aired in the Lake County Record-Bee.

This entry expands upon comments I left in response to Buttry’s piece.

Buttry cites an observation by Teresa Schmedding, president of the American Copy Editors Society, that the gap between bloggers and columnists is narrowing. Buttry offers an analysis of areas in which the two are similar and different.

I am pleased to see that some of the practices I adopted since I started to blog are highlighted by Buttry in his blog: “To me, the best approach for a columnist today is to be a blogger who occasionally turns some of the blog into print columns.”

As cited by Buttry, when I blog I can incorporate multimedia: images, video, embedded tweets. They break up text and add a unique dynamic to the piece.

A point I raised in the comment I left at his blog was that columns benefit from an additional reader’s input (i.e. an editor or proofreader for the print or online section that the column is destined for) as part of the publishing process, whereas when I blog, I serve as my own editor.

My second observation was that columns are published by a branded, respected source of journalism. (Some bloggers may also have this advantage if the blogging platform is hosted by the media company).

This statement was not meant to give offense and in a follow-up comment, I stated I was simply identifying a factor: A media company’s reputation drives viewers to the site and those bloggers benefit. It doesn’t mean that they are “better” in any way and as Steve stated during this dialogue, there are negative factors to the association too.

As Buttry put it, “A mediocre columnist for a respected brand starts out with an audience. An excellent independent blogger works his or her ass off to build an audience.”

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