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TANGENT Bloggers: It's expression, not journalism

By Monica Hatcher

McClatchy Newspapers

MIAMI -- Valentin Prieto made his foray into the blogsphere in 2003 as one of the first Cuban Americans to chronicle the experience of exile in a Web journal called Babalu Blog.

For the past three years, he has been updating his tiny corner of the World Wide Web every two to three hours with news articles, personal stories, criticism, poetry, and photographs in a collage, he says, that reflects the complexity of life in Cuba.

"But it's not journalism," says Prieto, 41, of Miami.

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Many view the web journals, popularly known as blogs, as an antidote to the mainstream media, but according to a report released by the Pew Internet &; American Life Project, more than 76 percent of an estimated 12 million American bloggers say they post to express themselves and share their experiences with others.

While bloggers have made media history by breaking news and torpedoing some of the news industry's most respected practitioners, most notably Dan Rather, 64 percent of bloggers said they don't see their work as a form of journalism.

However, about 56 percent said they "sometimes" or "often" engaged in journalistic activities like fact checking and linking to original source material.

The Pew Survey also revealed the astonishing diversity of bloggers, who are less likely to be white than the general Internet population.

Eleven percent are African American, 19 percent are English-speaking Hispanic and 10 percent identify as some other race, the survey results showed.

Fifty-percent are under the age of 30. And, 57 million adults, or 39 percent of U.S. Web users, read blogs, researchers said.

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