Thursday, September 06, 2007

Are you a journalist?

Andria Krewson was interested in my response to the question "Who is a journalist?" which emerged from a conversation on Facebook. Marc Matteo had posed some questions:

What is a "real" journalist? I have a degree in Journalism, does that count?

If one publishes a "journal" -- online or not -- doesn't that by definition make one a journalist?

Or is there a test? A certification? That would indeed make us Journalists as opposed to journalists.

Here's my reply, posted here for wider consideration and comment:
A journalist is a person who does journalism.

A journal? Nope, not enough. A Flickr stream? Not necessarily.

Journalism has a lot in common with science: it's a process of testing, calibrating, disputing, refining and adjusting notions about reality. There's no "whole truth" or final answer to be had, but there *is* a process available that gets us closer. It's neither an accident nor a revelation from on high; it's the product of evolution. (See “The Truth Discipline” in Jack Fuller’s book “News Values,” pp 86-89).

Good information advantages those who have it, and “journalism” is simply the process by which we have sorted and codified one kind of information as being more refined than some others. (Ideally, a doctoral thesis, investment newsletter or CIA briefing might all be even higher grade info than journalism.)

Not everybody with a blog about biology can call herself a scientist, nor is every political blogger a journalist. But some are.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:44 PM

    I came looking to see what you were waiting for and found this interesting post.

    How about movie critics whose reviews almost always ever make it online because the news hole has shrunk? Is it the intent that makes it journalism or does the place it is ultimately published define it? I feel more legitimate when my reviews make it into the physical paper-- although I *know* from the inside that that's most often a space issue rather than a judgement of my worthiness as a journalist.

    Or movie critics in general... are they even journalists?

    And what are you waiting for?