Journalism: To Be Or Not To Be (part 2)


While the folks on the American Heritage Foundation panel, (and thanks to Captain Ed for providing a link to the video of this) debated whether or not journalists and bloggers were friends or something less’ an important point, and one which reflects on not only the question(s) debated, but highlights the bias even some of those who are “pro blogs” seem to carry. And that is “Journalism is a profession”.
A “profession”? Merriam Webster (on-line) doesn’t address this use of the word until the forth entry

“4 a : a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation”
WordNet ® 2.0, defines it as “n 1: the body of people in a learned occupation; “the news spread rapidly through the medical community” [syn: community] 2: an occupation requiring special education (especially in the liberal arts or sciences)”
Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary says, “1 : a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation”
And American Heritage offers the more current usage (and in my opinion, the most watered down version) as their first choice, “1. An occupation or career: “One of the highest compliments a child can pay a parent is to choose his or her profession” (Joan Nathan).”. They give the traditional meaning of the word after that; “2. An occupation, such as law, medicine, or engineering, that requires considerable training and specialized study.”

One wonders who wrote, and edited all print media, prior to the introduction of a “professional curriculum” at the University level? Were said authors not part of a profession up until the moment a graduate with degree in hand was hired by some paper version of a daily crier out there? In fact, up until forty or fifty years ago, a college degree was not required to become part of this august body of wordsmiths. Indeed, if you had the proper amount of bulldog determination, the presence of mind to accurately recount and record facts of an event, and could stand the pressure of your peers competing along side of you, it was all you needed. In short, you paid your dues, hoping for “the one story which recognized you as a full fledged member of the press…the one with *your* by-line”.
The point, and what the “professionals” conveniently forget, is the final arbiter of the quality, and veracity of any given source, be it a blog, “The New York Times”, any TV or radio outlet, or your local bird cage liner, is the public. They will chose to take on board what any of these outlets comment upon or report. If you do not have the integrity to report the events of the day truthfully, and completely as you are able, if you refuse to limit your editorializing to the editorial/op-ed page or specific columnist’s comments, you will lose readers, listeners, and viewers. And no diploma on the wall is going to change the public’s mind.
We as bloggers, already fall under the same scrutiny. If we profess to put forth “the truth” and or “the facts” on any given event or topic, and are less then straightforward in reporting same (or fail to provide retractions/corrections as soon as we are able), our readership will fall off, and we will become nothing more then “white noise on the net”.
The media needs to realize folks out here in the blogosphere will sink or swim as viable journalistic entities just the same as they do, based on accuracy of their reporting of fact. We don’t lose advertising revenue (though for some of the largest blogs, this would also be true), we lose readership. This is also true for those bloggers who emulate what can be found on any editorial or op-ed page. They will inspire, enrage, captivate, or annoy based on their ability to not only get their point(s) across, but to do so with at least some sort of style. You mainstream folks know this. For example, like em or hate em, be it Krauthammer or Coulter, they have a style and use of wordplay all their own. They sell as much because of how they write, as they do based on content. The same will hold true with blogs and bloggers.
So to answer the questions proffered above. Yes (as also mentioned in part 1 of this screed), I am a journalist. I am as much a part of the media as any pamphleteer, or one horse town paper was of old. As with any outlet, I have a right to espouse my editorial stance/point of view, in the form of commentary or editorializing. I also have the ability to present hard news when, and as I see fit. If I want to keep my integrity, as a (potentially) viable source for information, it is my responsibility to present same as straight forward, factual, and unbiased, as possible.
This is no different (or shouldn’t be) then any other media outlet. That a number of them (those of the fourth estate and other main stream media outlets) have fallen far short of this ideal is sad. To that end, I am an adversary of any media outlet which elects to misinform the public in their alleged reporting of fact. I have no animosity toward those who do their level best, who can look themselves in the eye each morning while brushing their teeth or shaving. These would be journalists and reporters of fact. And bloggers have as much right to march along side them as not.

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