In the readings for this week the main topic was clearly how the definition of journalism as well as what it means to define oneself as a journalist is changing constantly. The internet has drastically changed the way in which journalists can produce content making the concept of “traditional press” a vague concept. Bloggers and online publications have expanded the range of the field making it possible for your average citizen to now be considered a member of the press.
The article titled “Bloggers might be excluded from Oregon’s executive sessions” from The Oregonian author of political blog Loaded Orygun Mark Bunster was prevented from attending a Lake Oswego city council meeting after city councilors did not consider him a member of the news media. In response to backlash from the media community Lake Oswego enacted a revised media policy that strictly defined media organizations as “‘institutionalized,’ ‘well-established’ and producing at least 25 percent news content.”
Such strict limitations to “media” are harmful and restrictive in this new era of journalism. While it should be clear to everyone what the exact terms are for being a journalist and/or a member of the press/media, it should not be a matter of establishment in the industry. There are simply too many outlets nowadays for such restrictions to consistently hold up.
Another article we looked at for this week called “Senator’s Attempt to Define ‘Real Journalism’ Blasted By Journalists” brought the topic of shield laws into question and how they fit into debate as well. The main issue up for debate was the 2013 Senate argument over how to define a ‘journalist’.
“The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y). “But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill.”
Within the above quote I’ve bolded one of my personal favorite lines from the article as Schumer hit the nail on the head. The world of journalism is constantly changing, evolving, and re-inventing itself into forms the public has never seen before. To set the definition of this art form as a static, unchangeable constant is disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of independent journalists who have been making history for centuries. Journalism is not meant to cater to the interests of the government, but reporters still deserve the protection of the law in order to do their jobs properly.
“It is dangerous to rely on only those sources the government deems worthy of protection,” said Nathan Fuller, writer for the Bradley Manning Support Network. “WikiLeaks is a serious news publication: it edits material and protects sources. Wikileaks has anonymous submissions because it knows its contacts don’t get protection.”
“Real journalists” are those who continue to seek and report the truth despite consistent pressures from everyone who doesn’t seem to understand what journalism really is.