So what is a journalist?

There is a very long (it isn’t TL;DR because I actually read it) article by  The Guardian’s Deputy editor, Katharine Viner, about modern online news gathering, journalism and the threats and challenges in the Age of the Open Web.

There are many, many pull-outs from the article and I will run them in a series over the next few weeks.

The first part is her discussion about what a journalist is…

“So what is a journalist?” is the question that’s being asked, in a classic example of the sort of self-examination that happens in a time of crisis.

Margaret Sullivan says in the New York Times that “a real journalist is one who understands, at a cellular level, and doesn’t shy away from, the adversarial relationship between government and press”. I like this definition because it’s about a state of mind, not a closed shop. Journalists need to be on the outside of all kinds of power – political, institutional, corporate. We are here to find things out which otherwise wouldn’t be known – and while journalistic experience and techniques are excellent qualifications for this, you don’t need a press card to do it. 

Yochai Benkler, who testified at Private Manning’s trial in July 2013, said that journalism isn’t what you say about yourself, it’s what you do: “It’s not a unique organisation or individual identity. It’s a behaviour.”

Journalism as a behaviour. Journalism as something you do, not something you are.

In a provocative post headlined ‘There are no Journalists’, Jeff Jarvis wrote: “anyone can [now] perform an act of journalism… anyone informing anyone. We [need to] reconsider journalism not as the manufacture of content but instead as a service whose goal is an informed public”.

People are performing acts of journalism everywhere.

 


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  • middleagedwhiteguy

    I am very concerned at the state of what is called “journalism” in this country. I see very little in the way of full information. The information presented to the public, particularly political information, seems to be slanted to suit the opinion of the editorial staff. Many outlets seem intent on embarrassing the government at every opportunity with no regard to proper debate and fact. The same outlets seem unable to debate the merits or otherwise of opposition policies.

    Fox News in the US is one extreme example of this. In NZ we are far more subtle. The ranting by Campbell Live over the living wage for the cleaners at parliament, (the same cleaners who have been put on display by the EPMU on a number of occasions now) is a prime example of this. Much is made of their pay, but nothing is said about where that pay comes from (a private company, and not the government), and what sort of government assistance they get. A quick look at the facts already in the media about their background, family status and otherwise show that support is available to these cleaners in the amount of $230 to $280 a week, but this is never mentioned because it does not suit the slanted narrative that Campbell is trying to present.

    • blokeintakapuna

      Comment of the day.

    • Goldie

      I couldn’t have written this better myself. ‘Campbell Live’ is not journalism – it is advancing a political (Labour-Greens) agenda. Simon Bridges is right – the only way to cut through the bias of ‘Campbell Lies’ is to demand to be interviewed live and unedited.
      A major problem is that almost all journalists in the MSM are young, urban, with liberal arts degrees. They lack any real world experience, and they naturally reflect the liberal-left. In terms of career progression, they look to going into PR rather than staying with the paper and gaining greater experience and pay. They lack any understanding of business, science, or the concerns of conservative, religious and rural people. The only journalists worth reading now are Audrey Young and Jon Morgan – and it is noticeable that they are older and more world-wise than their colleagues.
      The MSM inherent bias won’t change until the shareholders realise that leaving their businesses to be run by young, inexperienced liberals is running their businesses into the ground.

    • Phar Lap

      Brilliant summing up.Let us not also forget how the same cleaners have been soundly gouged by their own Union.that is the cleaners union.

    • Patrick

      As an aside – what happens to those currently on WFF when they get their wage increase to $18.40 per hour? Will their earnings mean no more WFF? Do they go from a guaranteed income (WFF) to now being dependant on the hours they work just like the rest of us?

    • Patrick

      As an aside – what happens to those currently on WFF when they get their wage increase to $18.40 per hour? Will their earnings mean no more WFF? Do they go from a guaranteed income (WFF) to now being dependant on the hours they work just like the rest of us?

    • Mr_Blobby

      You have to remember that the people being manipulated here and I include the Cleaners and the Politicians in this, are well done the evolutionary ladder.

      It could be a winner for Campbell live and the Unions because with the rebates on WFF it is pretty close to a zero sum game, the stupid puppets will not be that much better off. Everybody will want to work in the public sector and the private sector, the people who pay the TAX to fund all this will struggle to meet the wage expectations and stay in business. The living wage would then inflate as prices skyrocket to cover the cost of the pay rises.

      End result we are right back were we started.

      • middleagedwhiteguy

        Actually, based on the info in the media about one of these 2 cleaners, I have done a WFF calculation which shows a total hourly rate of over 21 dollars an hour. If the Living wage were applied, they would still get up to $23 an hour.

        • Mr_Blobby

          That would be right you transfer the WFF and then a small top up.

          Doesn’t work so good for the private sector.

  • Michael

    Scott Adams, the author of Dilbert, predicted in the mid 90s that citizen journalism will overtake the media, and that the media will then go to extremes to capture back an audience. Looks like he was right.

  • James Growley

    Is there any difference between the “School for Scoundrels” and the “School of Journalism”?

  • thor42

    A journalist is someone who sees the truth but then says “nah, blow it – I’ll write my usual left-wing bullshit.”

  • thor42

    A journalist is someone who sees the truth but then says “nah, blow it – I’ll write my usual left-wing bullshit.”

  • Patrick

    What is a journalist?
    Usually a middle class liberal from a privileged background with a chip on both shoulders and a socialist core.
    Someone who doesn’t mind bending the truth in an attempt to slant peoples opinions. Someone who hates all capitalists.
    Someone who sees themselves as above the law if their lawbreaking is done while in pursuit of a story.
    Someone who believes a journalist is some sort of protected species, they should be able to waltz through a war zone & not be shot at.
    Someone who operates on a higher authority, they can demand the attention of Prime Ministers because they act in the “public interest”
    Someone who believes they should be the story.
    Someone who believes it is acceptable to access the voicemails of dead people, Politicians & celebrities.

  • Patrick

    What is a journalist?
    Usually a middle class liberal from a privileged background with a chip on both shoulders and a socialist core.
    Someone who doesn’t mind bending the truth in an attempt to slant peoples opinions. Someone who hates all capitalists.
    Someone who sees themselves as above the law if their lawbreaking is done while in pursuit of a story.
    Someone who believes a journalist is some sort of protected species, they should be able to waltz through a war zone & not be shot at.
    Someone who operates on a higher authority, they can demand the attention of Prime Ministers because they act in the “public interest”
    Someone who believes they should be the story.
    Someone who believes it is acceptable to access the voicemails of dead people, Politicians & celebrities.

    • Bad__Cat

      That’s a pretty good CV for a journalist.

    • Bad__Cat

      That’s a pretty good CV for a journalist.

  • Mr_Blobby

    “the threats and challenges in the Age of the Open Web.”

    How about sunlight.

  • wulgus

    poop

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