Banishing the Blogger Backlash

Earlier this week, New York City passed a law recognizing what most of us in the media industry already know—bloggers are journalists too. Until Mayor Bloomberg announced the new rules on March 2nd, access to city hall press conferences and similar events sponsored by the city were restricted to members of traditional media only. According to Norman Siegel, an attorney who filed the lawsuit resulting in the ruling on behalf of several bloggers; "Online journalists will now be considered as 21st century journalists and be treated equally to print, television and radio journalists."

Reading MediaBistro’s article on the news, I couldn’t help but wonder what took the Big Apple so long? The days when the majority of Americans turned to traditional platforms for breaking news updates are long gone. With the proliferation of smartphones and other devices, we’ve become increasingly reliant on non-conventional sources for the most up-to-date information. In fact, according to a new report out this week from Pew Research, 92 percent of Americans get their news from a combination of platforms, including traditional print, mobile and online. Only seven percent of those surveyed reported getting their news from a single platform, and those respondents pinpointed the Web or local TV news as their go-to source for information.

The Pew report further found that Americans view consuming the news as a social process; 75 percent of people who reported accessing their news online read it via an e-mail forward or post on a social network site, and 52 percent shared links with their social networks via email, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. For those of us in the industry, this finding too should come as no surprise. We know that a blog comment or retweet from an industry influencer can be just as compelling as a feature article in a traditional print publication. In many cases, the ROI resulting from coverage in a social media channel is more actionable, as it can be traced in real-time throughout the duration of its relevancy.

So, while New York’s City Hall is admittedly a bit late in their recognition of the bloggers’ legitimacy, the announcement is nonetheless an industry milestone. By granting non-traditional journalists the same access afforded to members of conventional media, the ruling enables New Yorkers to receive their news via the preferred combination of platforms. As the media industry continues to undergo rapid changes, I’m betting we’ll see other government institutions and organizations alike follow New York’s lead and banish the blogger backlash.

--Contributed by Kate Finigan. Follow her @PRKateFin