Journalist: To Be Or Not To Be That Is The Question (part 1)


Going over the blogroll today, I stopped at Captain’s Quarters. Due to his tireless efforts in accurately “reporting” on any given topic piquing his interest, and while wearing his “pundit hat”, stating his case clearly and concisely, leavening it with his personal passion, Ed Morrissy has not only risen through the ranks of the blogosphere, but is starting to gain more then a little recognition in traditional media circles (and public speaking as well).
At the end of his post, the good Captain links to a recent event, sponsored by The Heritage Foundation, he was privileged to be a part of. The topic was “Bloggers and Journalists, Friends or Enemies?”. After watching the file, (It’s a long one, but well worth the time spent, check it out.) and came a way with some thoughts and concerns of my own regarding Blogs, Bloggers, MSM, “Journalists”, and the interplay (or lack there of) between them all.
As both of my regular readers know (and you know who you are *grin*), Snugg Harbor has been, and will continue to be my version of a Hyde Park soapbox, a pamphleteer, along with giving a voice to the Curmudgeon on the other side of this keyboard. And as such, I would guess this blog falls squarely into the camp of political/social commentator, a salt water pundit if you will.
But does that make me a journalist? What are the requirements….the “real” requirements for this designation.

American Heritage defines it as, “1. One whose occupation is journalism. 2. One who keeps a journal.”
Wordnet 2.0 says, “1: a writer for newspapers and magazines 2: someone who keeps a diary or journal”.

And rounding things out, we have Merriam-Webster, who define it as,

“1 a : a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium b : a writer who aims at a mass audience 2 : a person who keeps a journal”.

Okay, that is rather broad based, perhaps we should take a look at how “journalism” is defined. Back to Merriam-Webster,

“1 a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b : the public press c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium 2 a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest”

Well, under the second most accepted definition, sub definition “b” seems to be closest to what I was taught. I won’t insult you by including the “American Heritage Dictionary’s” input, suffice to say, you have to go down to their third definition before you arrive at the same thing Merriam-Webster has for number two.
I bring up the above definitions, because there seems to be a misconception perpetrated on the public at large that “Journalism is a profession much like a lawyer, or even a doctor.” It (journalism) is a career, and carries with it (or so I was taught) an awesome responsibility. To present the “who, what, why, when, and how” of any given event as objectively and unbiased as possible. With the exception of the editorial page, columnists, and op-ed pieces, this used to be the expected standard, for all practitioners of the art. It was pounded into my skull by a onetime editor of a paper in the Dakota’s, who also happened to be my first instructor/mentor in all things related to the newspaper side of the house, and reinforced by a Chief Petty Officer, many years later.
And *that* my friends is what journalism is really all about.
But is that applicable to me and my little bit of fluff on the net? If I were to offer up a post on some event and followed the above bold faced definitions, I would have to say yes. And in the broadest sense, whether describing your grandson’s three times at bat during last nights t-ball game, or giving as concise and detailed an account of the latest shuttle launch, both would fall under those umbrellas.
Well, according to the dictionaries, this bit of fluff seems to fit in there. I am a journalist in every sense of the word. As with the media behemoths, my integrity (or lack there of) will be what causes my readership to rise and fall, my voice to be heard by many or few. And my format for doing so will be as a “blog”. There will be no morphing into magazine or newsweekly, as this is how I see fit to express my views, report on the events of any given day, or review different points of historical interest.
(end of part 1)

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