Where did I leave my press pass?

Laura Freschi and Bill Easterly are upset because the World Bank doesn’t consider them journalists:

This morning we learned that the World Bank does not consider bloggers journalists. According to Bank policy, it won’t give press accreditation to bloggers, denying them access to the media briefing center where new reports are released under embargo before they are published for the public.

Can we tone down the hubris a little bit? I’m a blogger and I don’t think we’re journalists at all (and we should’t necessarily see that as a bad thing). We perform some of the same functions, and sometimes get treated similarly (usually by organizations trying to get their message out), but we should remember that this `profession’ also includes people who post awkward family photos or blog about how boring their lives are.

It’s a medium that’s still finding its feet, although it is a million times stronger than it was ten years ago. Aid Watch is upset because they aren’t getting the same treatment as the New York Times. I think the day that bloggers start getting treated like regular media, we should be very, very afraid.

5 thoughts on “Where did I leave my press pass?

  1. Tate Watkins

    April 9, 2011 at 4:14pm

    You make a good point about blogging including people who post awkward family photos, etc. But if you’re going to acknowledge them, then you should probably also mention bloggers at the other extreme: Ezra Klein, Andrew Sullivan, Dave Weigel, Matt Iglesias, etc.

    Your and the WB’s “journalists over bloggers” defense is an attempt to cling to the anachronism of a world where there are clear delineations between journalism/blogging/news/etc. The point is not that the WB should feel compelled to give *every* blogger early access to reports. It’s that you’d think the WB would have given the report to one of the most well-known aid blogs when it came asking, rather than giving a lame excuse about policy and procedure.

    And you’re definitely right, blogging is a medium that’s still struggling to find its feet in 2011 — much like journalism and news.

  2. Bill Easterly

    April 9, 2011 at 4:22pm

    Matt, appreciate your feedback. See my response on Aid Watch:

    “I am always willing to admit virtually any and all personal flaws, but the charge on Laura is unfair and logically fallacious.

    My cousin Kenny believes that Nobel Laureates and he should have equal rights before the law. That does not mean cousin Kenny considers himself equivalent to a Nobel Laureate.”

    best, Bill

  3. Matt

    April 9, 2011 at 6:27pm


    I’m not clinging to anything – I agree that the lines are muddled, but I think you’d have to agree that what Ezra Klein and Andrew Sullivan do looks nothing like what we’d consider traditional journalism. I see that as a good thing – I see what bloggers do as a good thing.

    I should also point out that I’m not arguing that the World Bank *shouldn’t* grant bloggers greater access, but I find their choice of delineation acceptable. It is easier to distinquish between the Guardian and Aid Watch than it is between Aid Watch (or Chris Blattman, or any reasonably competant blog) and some crazy guy who just opened a blog for the sake of getting that status.


    Perhaps hubris was a serious charge – but the whole thing smacks of annoyance that Aid Watch itself wasn’t allowed access. Your point about my Baye’s theorem mistake is well taken.

  4. Laura Freschi

    April 9, 2011 at 7:49pm


    Tate already articulated very well most of what I wanted to say in reply to this.

    Don’t worry, I am not deluded enough to think that we do what New York Times journalists do. On-the-ground, front line reporting that costs money and risks lives is a vital function that should be respected and supported.

    But I do think that there are bloggers who are well-qualified (in fact perhaps even better-qualified than some traditional print outlets) to analyze or comment upon a report published by the World Bank.

    In any case, the World Bank should come up with a set of guidelines that doesn’t rely on what is increasingly an arbitrary distinction between people who publish their work online and those who publish it on paper.


  5. Matt

    April 9, 2011 at 10:26pm

    Actually, Bill, now that I’ve thought about it – you’ve got the charge all messed up:

    “Aid Watch is upset because they aren’t getting the same treatment as the New York Times.”

    I’m not saying you think you’re the NYT at all here…. think about the statement, it actually agrees with the first of the two statements in your argument. Still, that doesn’t tweet as well I suppose.

    And Laura, I agree – some bloggers probably should get access, but we still shouldn’t confuse ourself with journalists – we serve a different purpose and use wildly different ways to attack issues and ideas.

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