Bloggers are not journalists: Talat Hussain

Published: July 25, 2012

Reigniting the debate over what really constitutes a journalist in the fast changing digital world, veteran journalist and television show host Talat Hussain made the distinction as clear as possible: no responsibility and no accountability means bloggers are not journalists.

“I have huge respect for bloggers but blogs are hugely opinionated pieces, which is fine, we are used to that, but they are not backed by any sense of accountability or responsibility.”

He explained that while the internet and the digital world had created new groups which “angle” themselves as journalists, the fact is that they “are not.”

Without the burden of accountability, Hussain opined that bloggers and commentators online are “much freer in their ability to analyse general content than journalists or regular run of the mill producers.”

In fact, if anything, those online act as a judge on mainstream journalists in the highly digitised sphere of media.

“They are the ones who have blogs on us, they are the ones who have websites on us – they are the ones who are taking the mickey out of us, which is fine really, but it is a sort of supra independent sphere that has been created by technology.”

Hussain believed that due to the frantic pace of exchanges and communication online, much has to be dumbed down so as to cram information into the limited mediums of communication online.

“There is too much talking and there is too much emphasis on texting and because you have to cram from Twitter to messages, a great thought into 100 words or less, it constrains you to dumb down your thinking.”

But the DawnNews host was optimistic on the internet’s potential to bring about change.

“If you use that [internet] to spread information, timely information that people can use in their daily life and get some result out of it…if you were to use this pathway of information flow for more productive purposes then it can lead to mass change.”

Positive political usage has also been encouraging as Hussain pointed out that “some political parties have used the new means of technology available to expand their memberships, send their messages across.”

“So they [political parties] are doing it. But by and large a lot of idle talk and dumbed down thoughts.”

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Reader Comments (47)

  • Abdullah Khan
    Jul 25, 2012 - 8:20PM

    Bloggers are better than so called Journalists.

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  • Awans
    Jul 25, 2012 - 8:28PM

    @Abdullah Khan: If you think Talat is so called Journalist then what can i say. Talat Hussain is the most respected Journalist in Pakistan but some people have a clear bias against him for no reason or may be Regionalism is at play here.

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  • mangoman
    Jul 25, 2012 - 8:47PM

    Bloggers are wanna-be journalists.

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  • SAK
    Jul 25, 2012 - 8:53PM

    Agreed…….

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  • Imran Con
    Jul 25, 2012 - 9:28PM

    Who said they were in the first place? Sounds like something they said hurt his feelings. He’s carefully choosing his wording to stay politically correct and not end up in some clash. Which would be the journalist in him and it isn’t a bad thing but, there’s something personal between the lines.

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jul 25, 2012 - 9:39PM

    I don’t agree with what Talat Hussain has said.

    Talat is one of the person’s of old school of thoughts. When he don’t consider Bloggers as Journalists they he will also not accept Freelance Writers as Journalists as well.

    For Talat Hussain probably a Journalist is a person who has been issued an Identity Card from Employers of Print and Electronic Media and on the basis of that another Identity Card is issued by the Ministry of Information.

    So this means that any one does not posses an Identity Card of Print and Electronic Media and another Identity Card of Ministry of Information is not a Journalist.

    Here Talat Hussain should look first the meaning of Journalist in the Dictionary to determine who can be called a Journalist.

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  • Salma
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:01PM

    so who says bloggers are journalist – Talat is twisting the pressing arguments against journalists- It is about journalism and journalists (which has become so very shameful) Talat not about bloggers – see the discourse continues to be dishonest and this is the issue with Pakistani journalists.

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  • muhammad ahmad
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:20PM

    That is absolutely right.

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  • Lord J
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:22PM

    Behold! Bloggers are coming to defend themselves

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  • hussaini
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:25PM

    those who are defying talat dont know the definition of journalist or journalism,journalism is not the thing you can do in sitting office or drawing room.how many bloggers were on streets in the political or CJ movement or will be in the future.Blogger is the name of Newborn Burger culture.

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  • Usman
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:33PM

    agree 90%

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  • Waheed Mazhar
    Jul 25, 2012 - 10:49PM

    There is no doubt that Mr. Talat is one of the good journalists amongst the present lot in Pakistan, but i respectfully disagree with the qualities he attributed to journalists and claimed that bloggers are devoid of such qualities, hence cannot be considered as journalists. We can look around and discern that there is no dearth of opinionated and irresponsible TV hosts / journalists, who are either towing some personal agenda, or are indulged in yellow journalism rather than performing their duties as journalists. Similarly, we can find many good, responsible and analytic blog posts. A fair comment could be that a balanced, unbiased, responsible and analytical approach is not the exclusive domain of journalists, they rather need coaching on inculcating such attributes and qualities, particularly in the given situation of media in Pakistan now a days.

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  • Jul 25, 2012 - 10:53PM

    I do not agree with Talat that bloggers are not journalist. If the people who are sitting in press club and TV shows are journalist and they think they are responsible then i have a question why they are making false reports sitting in a place without trouble to find facts?

    Today i had an experience with press people i called Chitral press club and i asked ”why you people are publish propaganda reports which are creating problem for others?” One journalist replied ”its not our creativity press conference is press conference because the people are paying for it!” Wow journalist community i salute you…

    Case to think…since 8 July 2012 a forest in Kalash valley is under fire trillion lost to nation…what journalist did? No thing they made irresponsible reports sitting in cities without trouble to go for getting facts and figures from the areas.

    I had sent an email to 100 plus national and international journalist no one take any notice!!!
    One can see the details at The Kalasha Times Blog why blog because it was easy to publish from Kalash using dial-up connection the website is hard to update…

    Read with your own eyes how responsible propagated reports…

    Please be responsible human being and do not bias and work for only personal gains. Be realistic and support positive causes.

    Talat i respect what you have did in media but if journalist support activities only which benefit the journalist community by people like Malik Riaz then what would you think?

    Everyone should work to bring change and create resistant for govt to better things for the welfare state and its people otherwise Pakistan will be a state which is facing so many problems and there will be more issues if media personnel propagates irresponsible news!Recommend

  • Nasir Mahmood
    Jul 25, 2012 - 11:18PM

    Be careful, they will now be after you since you have demanded their accountability which in fact should be everyone’s.

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  • eureka
    Jul 25, 2012 - 11:27PM

    Wikileaks was the game changer for journalism.The raw data gave new insights into events like no journalist had ever had.There is a risk that both journalists and bloggers maybe prejudiced and all aspects of a story may not come out.A story has many facets and both bloggers and scribes are required to bring them out.This is like the comments section here,where one gets yet another perspective or some additional information which fills the gaps in the original piece by the journalist.

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  • Faisal
    Jul 25, 2012 - 11:38PM

    [copied] “those who are defying talat dont know the definition of journalist or journalism,journalism is not the thing you can do in sitting office or drawing room.how many bloggers were on streets in the political or CJ movement or will be in the future.Blogger is the name of Newborn Burger culture.”

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  • Kaspar
    Jul 25, 2012 - 11:49PM

    What or who is a blogger? And what role does he or she fulfil. Will anyone, including the bona fide journalists, throw light on this? And the next question of course is who, precisely, can be called a journalist? Is being a journalist, or a blogger for that matter, something extraordinary?
    The background to this controversy is not known to the readers. How did this question arise in the first place?
    Bloggers are bloggers, and journalists are journalists–(according to the agreed definitions of the terms that the seasoned journalists like Talat Hussain must be knowing.) And the two are unlikely to meet. I know from experience that journalists, esp. those employed by the media, regard as ‘journalists’ only those who derive the main part of their livelihood from their jobs!!

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 12:09AM

    These days on Pakistani Twitter sphere, either everyone is a Journalist or every Pakistani journalist is on twitter! I am inclined to go with the first one though.

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  • Insomniac
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:09AM

    Bloggers are not journalists…agreed, let me add that Pakistani journalists aren’t journalists.

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  • aley
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:21AM

    @Awans:
    Really?? He himself is highly opinionated…and what about Hamid Mir, Haroon Ur Rasheed, Ansar Abbasi etc…

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  • Basit
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:28AM

    Blogger is the new profession of liberal burgers who have been unable to find real jobs. Some of them become NGO “workers”, “social activists” etc.

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  • Mr S
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:29AM

    Every Tom, Dick and harry with relatively good English writing skills can be a blogger

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  • F.K
    Jul 26, 2012 - 1:00AM

    Who wants to be a journalist? lol

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 1:20AM

    Not Fully Agree… Some Bloggers who studied Media Studies and now they are implementing it on their blogs without any ethical and Media Law Violations, are truly Journalists.

    secondly, people don’t trust on bloggers’ news because there are dozens of news blogs but only few have news sense.

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  • Nono
    Jul 26, 2012 - 1:49AM

    the scandals that have surfaced where our top journalists were involved, I hardly see transparency, responsibility and accountability. And beleive you me this is not so only in Pakistan, it’s all over the world. The only difference is that in our country journalsts are cheaper to be bought. A lunch or a bottle of whisky will do the trick.

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  • Alam
    Jul 26, 2012 - 2:01AM

    Off course, ISI/govt/Malik Riaz are not paying bloggers, so they r not journalists

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  • Noman
    Jul 26, 2012 - 2:05AM

    Okay. Bloggers are not journalists. So what?

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  • Rehan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 2:48AM

    Absolutely agreed….

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  • Bhoola
    Jul 26, 2012 - 3:02AM

    Bloggers may not want to be Journalist, but They try to be information source, they share this status with Journalist. Ideally they should have different pots for investigation – Information sharing – analysis and comments.

    Now Pakistan, mushroom growth of main stream media have created a demand and supply imbalance. This resulted in lot of fuzzy-ness. Now some of the ppl with access to video editing and website is trying to claim same level of status journalist may enjoy. No-wonder we have “journalist” stickers on car bakes n etc.

    I personally feel 80% of main stream journalist n Analyst on our main stream media are incompetent

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 3:32AM

    I principally agree with Talat’s opinion that bloggers are not journalist. A one much easier way to explain is becoming a blogger does not required anything except an internet account and access to any website providing free blogs. In other way around, there is a long path to become journalist. Principally its true. Exceptions and our culture … another story.

    But still, I believe all bloggers will agree that writing blogs is much equivalent to expressing your opinion but journalist need to collect and compile all relevant evidences before making any news.
    Again, if this is not happening in our society then it does not mean that actually there is no difference.

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  • Taimur
    Jul 26, 2012 - 4:13AM

    Even Journalists are not Journalists in Pakistan, but rather paid mercenaries, given what we saw on live TV (referring to the antics pulled during Malik Riaz interview). At least the bloggers are not on other people’s payroll

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 4:53AM

    If you have ever read a blogs on this site, then you will get what Talat is saying.

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  • Uzair
    Jul 26, 2012 - 5:01AM

    I agree with Talat aswell, but the thing is that in Pakistan there are no such people as journalists as I have not seen any journalist being held accountable or responsible for all the negative things that they say and do. Maybe another article should be written titled (Blabbering on T.V or getting some BS that you wrote published does not make you a journalist)

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  • Mo
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:12AM

    I remember he did a complete baseless program justifying OBL was not killed in Pakistan.
    How can we believe you sir, when you don’t even know yourself what youre talking abount.

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  • Umair
    Jul 26, 2012 - 8:59AM

    Bloggers are free flyer with no accountability, whereas journalists are professionals, accountable and sensitive towards content.

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  • Awais
    Jul 26, 2012 - 11:44AM

    Talat is right, and when did we bloggers claimed we are Journalists ? We are proud bloggers and neither we did Journalism and neither we claim our self as Journalists.

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  • Kumar
    Jul 26, 2012 - 12:22PM

    After what Mubashiq Luqman did, journalists too don’t seem to carry much accountability and responsibility.

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 1:10PM

    The way information flooding our lives through different communication channels i do not think being a journalist is some thing a honor big.. in this information age every one is journalist and no one is journalist.

    This is information age you do need just to arrange and organize these information flood. Bloggers are Information entrepreneurs .. informations are not only information they are product and bloggers not all but few know how to handle information product ..

    Regards
    http://www.alrasub.com

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  • Jul 26, 2012 - 1:13PM

    bloggers are non professionals, they have a charm to be recognized as intellectuals, same as some journalists, infact most of the journalists also wants to be known as intellectuals, so the point is if we are able to prove ourselves as what we pose, then it should be a fair play and one should not be debunked just because he is a non professional- I fully respect Talat Hussain as a journalist, an opinion maker and an analyst- general view is correct but in some particular cases the bloggers may prove to be reasonable, depends on their personal credibility restored in their followers.

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  • Zia
    Jul 26, 2012 - 1:15PM

    Let everybody speak! May it be a bloggers or whatever!
    Why only journalists should speak!!

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  • Ehsan Khan
    Jul 26, 2012 - 3:11PM

    If bloggers are not journalists, then who all constitute to be the journalists. Are all TV anchors and so-called hosts of political talk shows journalists? How many of them would have been running barber shops and ice cream parlours if they had not got job as TV anchors.

    The world is fast transforming today. Look at social media, which has opened new vistas for individuals and groups who were earlier deprived of their say. Now, on social media, individual is the writer, editor, composer, publisher, critic and a lot more. Thus, the lines separating various professions are fast removing.

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  • Pinky
    Jul 26, 2012 - 5:03PM

    if the conduct of pakistani journalists was the benchmark talat had in mind, i would take this as a compliment ;p

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  • Ali Naqvi
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:53PM

    Even though I like Talat Hussain’s work but I totally disagree with him blogging tweeting or using the social media to express opinions and write about topics where they do not have to negotiate with the media house’s owners and editors is a very modern form of journalism mind you recently some of the big stories broken not by conventional media or media card holder employed journalists but bloggers who has no strings attached to them. I mean its all about going forward and modernise yourself for the future even if you have to change the definitions of some things do it now a days people do not have to wait for the first copy of the paper edition of newspapers to know no one is dying to listen to or read highly compromised political party affiliated views of the so called ID holder journalists..

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  • mohsin
    Jul 26, 2012 - 7:35PM

    what is comprehensive definition of journalist? what is needed to be called journalist?

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  • Umer
    Jul 26, 2012 - 8:28PM

    >Bloggers are not journalists: Talat Hussain

    Does that means bloggers can’t benefit from plots for journalists and patronage of the establishment? What a shame.Recommend

  • Muhammad Faizan Ali
    Aug 2, 2012 - 11:59PM

    The major difference between bloggers and Journalists is the matter of professionalism and formalization of industry.

    Since blogging has gone through several paradigm shifts from content distributor to a complete revenue business model. So it becomes fairly difficult to clearly to distinguish between the exercises of the right of Freedom to Speech or commercial intents. We have to clearly define the boundaries for blogging for Freedom of expression and business-oriented professional blogging.

    Journalism is a complete profession controlled by authorities that establishes certain moral, legal, and ethical boundaries around people practicing Journalism. Journalists get professional training and similar policy-driven rights and responsibilities. Talat Hussain has also emphasized the point that If there is no accountability and responsibility that is not Journalism. Journalists enjoy a special rank in our national system which bloggers don’t.
    So bloggers are by no means are Journalists, however, they can use blogging as tool to improve their writing and reporting capabilities if they are planning to become professional Journalists.

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  • arcane
    Sep 21, 2012 - 10:36PM

    eehhh typical behaviour, print media journalist said same thing about TV journalist, times’ changing, adapt and survive, settle down and stop jumping around different channels.

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