Everyone writes, but that doesn’t necessarily make everyone a writer, just like singing in the shower or doodling doesn’t make you a singer or an artist, respectively. So, what does, and what is the difference between a writer, journalist, and a blogger?
Writer is a term that has been very romanticized. It’s often reserved for someone who writes novels, journals, essays, and the like. However, many people, regardless of exactly what it is that they write, how much, or how successfully, would have no shame in claiming the title of writer. But, who decides if someone is a writer, your peers, critics? Perhaps it really only is a matter of you deciding that that’s who you are. Not what you do (especially for a living), but who you are, like an artist (and writing very much is a form of art), and maybe it only requires that intent.
Journalism is a very different beast. What makes for a good writer, is exactly what’s all wrong, for what it takes to be a good journalist. Journalists are non-fiction writers, reporting the facts, and like judges and juries (despite it being quite impossible to escape subjective opinion completely), aim to bring the facts as fairly and neutrally as possible, keeping personal opinion, bias, agenda, politics, and religion out of it. In other words, truth for the sake of truth. The best journalists, the ones that can exemplify these virtues most honorably, I have come to consider synonymous with the Pulitzer Prize (I could be wrong).
This is the space in which 99% of writers, including myself, live in. It’s neither as romantic or glamorous or financially rewarding as being a writer, nor does it come with as much scrutiny or pressure for integrity as a journalist (although I certainly try my best to be as honest and accurate as possible). I’ve written hundreds of articles, essays, poetry, fictional stories, etc., but I’ve never quite had the stomach for claiming to be a writer. It just always felt so arrogant and self-important.
Not everyone can be a writer or journalist, but anyone can be a blogger. Since they let any ol’ dumb-dumb (like myself) with access to a keyboard share their thoughts with the world, it can be a tool, like any other, used for hate. Words really do have power. We’re currently experiencing some very confusing times where words are concerned. On one hand, I care very strongly about free speech, and on the other, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to provide a soapbox for others to say anything they like.
I think the biggest misconception about free speech, is that it’s the right to say out loud or write down publicly absolutely anything that pops into your head. That’s not how it works at all. Intent is everything. For example, defamation is illegal. You cannot be libelous (writing untrue statements) or slanderous (speaking untrue statements) about someone in a way that could hurt their reputation, livelihood, or very safety. There’s some gray area when it comes to celebrities and public figures, especially in regard to parody, but it’s pretty simple. Using words to incite hate and violence toward someone is not a defendable use of free speech.
However, if you merely disagree with the views of others or they offend you, that does not give you the right to censor them. Rather, you should openly disagree with and debate their views. That is what free speech is about. The ability to both share your views and disagree with other people’s views without the fear of being silenced. Of course, it’s a complex subject, and I’m not an expert. That’s why I can only claim to be a blogger, no longer hip, that word may be.