Blogging as Journalism

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Posted on 01 Apr 2013 02:05

A discourse community is traditionally defined as a group of people with shared goals, a shared lexis, and interpersonal communications methods, among other criteria, though this definition is frankly rather technical and exclusive. Generally, for example, said interpersonal communications should fit into a specific genre; this dates the definition due to the evolution of multimedia communications, and renders it unusable to a certain degree as a result. A good example of said blurring of genres would be a particular type of short-form Internet journalism, which blurs the lines between journalism and humorist writing, as well as blogging; regardless it is a distinctive genre and one that bears further exploration, partly due to the stylistic quirks it carries – use of images, point of view, tone, subject, and so forth – and partly because, as Bucholtz mentions in her piece on nerd girls, these all have wider implications for social theory (and vice versa).

This community and the genres it encompasses are of particular interest because of said wider implications. Bucholtz, for example, acknowledges the way social theory is traditionally used to explain and embellish certain aspects of linguistics, and turns it on its head to look at linguistics as a way of illuminating sociology and changes in the zeitgeist and so forth. Her research will be particularly useful for this purpose – partly because the social groups involved overlap, but mainly because of this inversion. One usually studies discourse communities in order to examine the impact society and its various hierarchies have, but I would rather look at the implications of a particular form and style of writing, from a particular group of people, with regard to those hierarchies and perspectives.

In my research I hope to draw parallels and find similarities between such published writing on multiple platforms and about multiple subjects, in order to hopefully draw some general conclusions about the members of this discourse community, as well as what series of events – what change in the zeitgeist, if you will – particularly created the niche in which they live and work. I intend to conduct research into these communities by immersing myself in the writing they produce, as well as whatever internal communications they make public in blog form; I would also like to enter the community in a rather mushfake manner, by trying to emulate the style of writing and subject matter and so forth. If possible, I'd like to interview at least one writer of this style, but this is in my opinion secondary to looking at the writing they produce.

As a writer, I'd like to think that I'm part of the overarching discourse community of which short-form Internet journalism is a subset, and I would like to use that larger community to my advantage – in discussing this subject with other writers, as well as making use of any previously published material on this or similar subjects. Additonally, as I'm looking to go into journalism in general, and most likely Internet journalism, given the shifting nature of the industry, I have a rather personal stake in the matter; I'm interested in what sort of writing people are interested in consuming, and particularly how it is symptomatic of changing times and sentiments.

Major difficulties I will encounter probably include the possibility of distraction, as well as the mixed motives people may have for participating in this community; for example, people may not share motivating goals, while they may share overarching goals such as getting pageviews or comments. One writer may write in order to make money, at the end of the day, while another may do it for a sense of superiority, and so on and so forth.

As a general trend in writing and reporting, this sort of humorist journalism is perhaps something that should be evaluated more, rather than dismissed as “not serious” or flippant or unreliable. Regardless of one's personal views with regard to the style and content, as a group of people who will at one point or another need to make our views known, publish information, or consume and interpret other published information, I think we all really have a rather personal stake in examining mass media and mass communications and how they change in order to make for maximum effectivity and clarity.

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