Many marketing, web development, and SEO companies — and even some law firms — look at legal blogs as merely a means for generating high search engine rankings and web traffic. 

But long before these folks discovered blogs, legal bloggers viewed what they did as journalism. In some cases investigative journalism. In others, legal commentary and analyis that would not otherwise be available. 

So I hope a few legal bloggers joined in when newsrooms across the country erupted in applause Sunday night when “Spotlight,” the film based on the Boston Globe’s Pulitizer-Prize winning expose of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of priest abuse, won the Academy Award for best picture. 

News reporting is not the glamorous profession it once was. Reporters are being laid off. Budget cuts prevent investigative journalism. Some newspapers are being shut down all together.

But as Timothy Pratt (@timothyjpratt) reported for the New York Times, Monday brought a bounce to the newsroom’s step.  

“Everybody’s walking a little bit taller” in the newsroom, Brian McGrory, the [Boston Globe’s] editor, said in a phone interview, describing the mood as “universally great.’’ “It’s a much-welcomed boost.”

……

[Walter] Robinson, who led The Globe’s investigative team, said in a phone interview that the award was a “needed shot in the arm for journalism,” and a reminder to the public on “good reporting and the difference it can make in people’s lives — particularly the lives of people who have no one else to speak for them but us.”

I am not suggesting that blogging lawyers are facing the same challenges as journalists, though many may see parallels in the decline of jobs, but blogging lawyers are often looked at as advertisers.

And who can blame folks. We have lawyers buying blog content to mislead people about the lawyer’s knowledge and expertise. We have others packing blogs with keywords and key phrases in shallow attempts to achieve high Google rankings. We have law firms buying distribution of content that is not seen as otherwise valuable.

Rather than publish independent publications covering a niche, we have law firms placing content inside a website under a heading called a blog. Rather than journalism, such firms chase web traffic and content laden bio and practice group pages.

Despite all this craziness, there are thousands of lawyers across this country publishing excellent law blogs. Journalism at the finest via the likes of the China Law Blog, Food Safety News, Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Gay & Lesbian Family in Texas, Florida Probate and Trust Litigation Blog and Michigan Law Advisor.

Is there any other publication covering state attorney generals than the State AG Monitor? Is there any other publkication that has the eye of the FCC in the way that CommLaw Blog does? And is there any other publication holding cruise lines accountable around the world like Cruise Law News does?

The list goes on and on in the case of lawyers driven by passion and expertise producing quality journalism. Journalism and reporting that was never before possible and if covered before is no longer being covered because of newsroom declines.

I get goosebumps skimming through the publications on the LexBlog Network. Sure, there a few stinkers, but there are thousands of lawyers in our network and elsewhere who ought to take pride in their journalism work.

I was first told about ‘Spotlight’ by my friend and attorney, Bob Ambrogi (@bobambrogi). Bob, in addition to practing law is a publisher in his own right being the only person to serve as editor of the National Law Journal and Lawyers Weekly — and now publishing the leading legal technology publication, LawSites, in the form of a blog.

So many areas of the law and locations yet to be covered though. The list of publishing opportunities for good lawyers is endless. With publishing and social distribution only becoming easier along with talented lawyers wanting to make a difference, legal journalism is on the rise — and from a source that could never have been expected a decade ago, the everyday American lawyer.