THE BLOG
08/26/2011 04:51 EDT | Updated 10/26/2011 05:12 EDT

Quebec's Thin Line Between Journalist and Blogger

Quebec's Culture Minister, Christine St-Pierre, announced this week that the Jean Charest liberal government planned to develop a new model of regulation of Quebec media and support the diversity of voices. This fall, public consultations on the project will be held across the belle province to discuss those issues. Part of the plan of the Quebec government during the consultation is to establish the status of professional journalist distinguishing those "serving the public interest" from "amateur bloggers."

"Instead of treating Bloggers as if they're not capable of reporting the news or having journalistic integrity, why not just elevate the journalists that we deem as "worthy" to a more professional status?", is what this plan suggests according to Mitch Joel, author of the book Six Pixels of Separation.

Mitch Joel, whose role includes being a blogger, a writer and a professional speaker, ironically refers to this plan as enabling the citizen to participate in the debate and let the media organizations to decide who would get more media access, like "with an ID." Bloggers and citizens, according to Mitch Joel are increasingly part of the news production process and the government should focus on where the audience is. He adds, the different perspectives and how we can access the information are where the government should also be the focus.

The idea to elevate the status of journalist to professional journalist is far from being unanimous across the profession, in Quebec or abroad. This idea was at the heart of the rapport Payette published earlier this year, a group at the Laval University in Quebec put in place to discuss the future of journalism and information in Quebec. This report, according to Nathalie Collard from La Presse, although rigorous and elaborate, was dismissive of the role that journalists are pushed to adopt in this world because of the multiplication of platforms and social media. A world, that is, for Nathalie Collard, far from the picture of what journalists represented 10 years ago. Today, the role of the journalist is multiple and goes in hand with the multiplication of platforms and social media.

Is the plan announced earlier this week by Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre, in part a reaction of the government towards increasingly the sensationalist press in the province and the blur between the boundaries or professional journalists and bloggers? The falsely announced death of Jean Charest caused by a hacker entering the newspaper Le Devoir website must have not helped the government trusting news organizations. But is that the role of the government or the professional journalists and bloggers to take action and determine the role of professional journalists?

There does not seem to be a general consensus at this point in the debate. But these are questions that have been raised since the announcement made earlier this week. The difference between bloggers and journalists is increasingly thin and it is not clear how the plan will address this issue. How about user-generated content and journalists like Nathalie Collard or Mitch Joel who blog and are active on multiple platforms? How will the plan address those issues? During the fall consultations, we will see people like the traditional journalists, the convergers, the bloggers and the politicians discuss about these questions transparently, as it should be in a world where those boundaries are to be broken.