Many call Sullivan a blogger as opposed to a journalist because of the new medium that he has pioneered. I don't care for the term because it leads many people to dismiss Sullivan and others like him as something other than a journalist, and that is completely wrong.
Bloggers are journalists that use the Internet -- the world's new communication tool of choice -- as their medium. The Internet, as a medium, is far different than print, radio and television (in fact, it's all of those things and much more), and not surprisingly, journalism online is evolving into something far different than the bulk of the journalism purveyed by mass media conglomerates like
(NWSA - Get Report)
(TWX - Get Report)
(CBS - Get Report)
The New York Times
(NYT - Get Report)
and so on.
Many media businesses are struggling now because, despite all their talk about being hip to the digital age, they're still -- when you boil it down -- trying to move their traditional modes of journalism onto the web and continue selling ads and subscriptions as if not much has changed.
People like Sullivan, however, are not stuck with the old legacy mode of newspaper and magazine writing and reporting that many of us learned in school. They're having success because the new form of journalism they're practicing is native to the Internet and completely different than the old-school. When it's done right, it's a lot better, too.
Online journalism harnesses the social, interactive power of the web to create a community of readers, writers, reporters and commenters that are all gathering information together and sharing and debating ideas -- hopefully on subjects that they're genuinely passionate about.
The complex but natural reporting process that is generated by this has a certain organic authenticity that is rarely found on TV or radio or in newspapers or magazines. More expertise and perspective is typically brought to bear. The pretense of objectivity is abandoned, making for a more honest forum, and everything is generally much more transparent.
Online journalists like Sullivan invite their audience into the reporting process and bring them along for the ride, while many traditional journalists keep the reporting process between them and their sources, leaving their audience in the dark about how they came upon the information they're reporting. Naturally then, traditional journalists often put the interests of their sources above their audience -- a major problem in the corporate media -- whereas the new breed of online journalist is reestablishing a genuine connection with readers and earning their trust in an age where distrust of the media is probably more rampant than distrust of government.