Are bloggers journalists?

David Patrick Columbia is the founder and editor of New York Social Diary, a website that chronicles the lives of the Big Apple’s elite. Since graduating from Colby College in 1962, Columbia has led numerous lives: he's been a stockbroker, an owner of a head shop in upstate New York, a sportswear designer, a freelancer (he wrote a firsthand account of one of Truman Capote's "lost weekends"), and a scriptwriter for a courtroom television show. In 1988, Columbia finally found his calling when he collaborated with Debbie Reynolds on her autobiography. In 1994, Columbia began writing the New York Social Diary for Quest Magazine (a condensed version of the website is still printed in Quest every month). The New York Social Diary website was launched in September, 2000. Columbia has since become something of social fixture himself: he's been the subject of articles and blog posts in New York Magazine, Gawker, and the New York Observer.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: Are bloggers journalists?

 

David Patrick Columbia: I’ll tell you. When I was in Abu Dhabi at this festival of thinkers, there was a panel on which I sat in which they discussed the future of media. And most of the people were people who are very well established in media – people who work for mainstream media: Washington Post, etc., etc. They all were attacking the bloggers on the Internet. They just couldn’t get over it. And one person said that they had no credentials to be journalists. And another person said that they were shrill. Now I don’t think I am shrill, and I’ve had enough experience now that you could call it credentials; but I think everybody has a right to express their opinions.

And I think what’s wonderful about the Internet, and what’s wonderful about the business of being a blogger is that people definitely have the opportunity to pursue those things that interest them and even report on them. And it’s my personal feeling, since I’m a person who reads the Internet a lot, that those people who have that kind of enthusiasm are doing it. And some of them are doing it really, really well. And I think they may very well be the future of journalism. And I think that the newspaper business – the print media, and also the television media – have a problem in the sense that they are so influenced by corporate and money that they have stopped thinking, and they’re basically following the party line. Bloggers don’t have to do that. They can be independent by the nature of who they are. And I think therefore there’s some real great possibilities there.

 

Question: How has technology changed what you do?

 

David Patrick Columbia: Well technology has given David Patrick Columbia the opportunity to go out into the world and present himself and pursue the things that interest him. The reason I started my web site was because after I’d had a fairly successful career in print in New York writing about “society”, I had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever from anybody in print media. And I knew that there were a lot of people, just like that little boy who grew up in Massachusetts, out there in the world who were very interested in what I did. And I saw the Internet as an opportunity to reach those people everywhere in the world. And I’ve learned since from my experience that it’s true.

 

Conducted on: October 29, 2007

 


×