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Accidental Intermittent Journalists

Journalism’s definition as it is seemingly known today is fluid – it’s reporting news, current events and in our world, our respective real estate markets and the influences that are affecting them. What this morphing definition means in the context of each individual state’s real estate advertising rules and laws has yet to be tested*, and God help whomever will be the first to defend our right to write/blog/discuss real estate in the same format.

Journalism's definition as it is seemingly known today is fluid - it's reporting news, current events and in our world, our respective real estate markets and the influences that are affecting them. What this morphing definition means in the context of each individual state's real estate advertising rules and laws has yet to be tested*, and God help whomever will be the first to defend our right to write/blog/discuss real estate in the same format.

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Are you a journalist?

Maybe.

When real estate bloggers write market reports, when they write about a new technology they’re using, when they describe a new development or zoning change or election, they’re practicing journalism.

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Journalism’s definition as it is seemingly known today is fluid – it’s reporting news, current events and in our world, our respective real estate markets and the influences that are affecting them.

What this morphing definition means in the context of each individual state’s real estate advertising rules and laws has yet to be tested*, and God help whomever will be the first to defend our right to write/blog/discuss real estate in the same format.

But here’s the thing –

Like pornography, part of defining journalism is knowing it when it’s seen. And therein lies part of the challenge – the ambiguity, the inherently situational nature of each individual bloggers’ respective situations.

Lots of bloggers are clearly not journalists. But – lots of bloggers clearly are journalists. An even greater number likely practice some form of journalism one day, and then not again for a week or two. Some bloggers can be journalists, too, and this suit in the Commonwealth of Virginia may just set the precedent for bloggers – and their commenters. Wouldn’t any one of us go to bat to protect our commenters’ rights to anonymity?

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But … What is “news”?

wikipedia says:

News is any new information or information on current events which is presented by print, broadcast, Internet, or word of mouth to a third party or mass audience. News, the reporting of current information on television and radio, and in newspapers and magazines.

The EFF says:

… The definition of news media has been interpreted broadly, and we believe that a blogger who is gathering news for a public blog should qualify. For more information, see the Bloggers’ FAQ on the Freedom of Information Act.

The CIA says (source):

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Representative of the News Media refers to any person actively gathering news for an entity that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public. The term “news” means information that is about current events or that would be of current interest to the public.

Are Tweets a form of journalism? They’re cited across all forms of media – print, internet, tv, radio … Tweets report breaking and ongoing news, insight and opinions …

Yet another question – What does your Errors and Omissions coverage say?

I’m no journalism professor, lawyer nor paid journalist, but I do believe that a precedent needs to be set – might the NAR be up for investigating and putting together a white paper on this?

Some of what some of us are doing is reporting “news.” Are we journalists? I think the answer is “sometimes.” Let’s embrace the ambiguity and keep doing what we’re doing as well and as honestly as we can.

If presented with the need, would you leap under the protective cover of the protections provided by the journalistic blanket? I know I would.

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*Please let me know if I am wrong – I’d love to see the case.

Written By

Dad, Husband, Charlottesville Realtor, real estate Blogger, occasional speaker - Inman Connects, NAR Conferences - based in Charlottesville, Virginia. A native Virginian, I graduated from VMI in 1998, am a third generation Realtor (since 2001) and have been "publishing" as a real estate blogger since January 2005. I've chosen to get involved in Realtor Associations on the local, state & national levels, having served on the NAR's RPR & MLS groups. Find me in Charlottesville, Crozet and Twitter.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    March 10, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Lots of debate going on right now about all this, it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.

    Me? I’d just like to cover Michigan sports as a journalist, (blogger)

  2. Danilo Bogdanovic

    March 14, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I’m no lawyer, but…if the same rights afforded to journalists are afforded to bloggers to protect them, will bloggers suddenly find themselves equally as likely to be sued for slander or lible as journalists are?

    It’s my understanding that, as bloggers, we are simply stating our personal opinion, not reporting news – something that has kept bloggers out of the courtroom or from losing a case against them when in the courtroom.

  3. Jim Duncan

    March 16, 2009 at 5:25 am

    D –

    It’s my understanding that, as bloggers, we are simply stating our personal opinion …

    And that’s the thing though, in many cases, we are doing more than expressing opinions, we’re reporting news, market updates, original content and information … and I think that that makes some of us journalists.

    I remember a story a while ago discussing a certain assessor – wouldn’t that be considered original news, and not necessarily opinion? 🙂

    I think we’re all liable to be sued one day, bloggers, journalists, both … but we don’t have big news organizations to back us – just (hopefully) gracious pro bono orgs.

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