Monday, March 3, 2008

Blogversation I: Do I Consider Myself a Journalist?

As you will see from Rottenchester's latest post, 13WHAM's Evan Dawson has asked local bloggers to participate in a "blogversation," and the first topic we will cover is answering the following question: "Do you consider yourselves journalists?"

I decided to consult my copy of The American Heritage College Dictionary (Third Edition) to get a definition for the word "journalist," which is defined as follows: 1. One whose occupation is journalism. 2. One who keeps a journal. In trying to determine my status as a "journalist," my first concern was determining whether my writing this blog is my "occupation," given my assumption that Evan wasn't asking whether we consider our blogs a type of diary. So I looked up the word "occupation," and found this definition: 1.a. An activity that is one's regular source of livelihood; a vocation. b. An activity engaged in esp. as a pastime; an avocation. Clearly my blogging does not fall under the first part of the definition, i.e., I have a day job that actually makes me money and has nothing to do with my blog, but my blogging certainly falls under the second part in that a synonym for "avocation" is "hobby."

Now that I've proved that I can be "occupied" as a journalist, I now need to determine whether my writings on this blog can be considered "journalism," which is defined as follows: 1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presentation of news or news articles. 2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast. 3. The style of writing characteristic of newspapers and magazines, marked by the direct presentation of facts. 4. Newspapers and magazines. 5. An academic course in journalism. 6. Written material of current interest or popular appeal. While it's debatable whether what I engage in here falls under the first three definitions (which is what most people think of when they hear the word "journalism"), and it's clear that it does not fall under the fourth and fifth definitions, there is no question that my blog posts fall under the last, looser definition. Therefore, because my blogger status falls under the definition of "journalist," and unlike some occupations, e.g., doctors or lawyers, one does not necessarily need to attend a special school or hold a license to call oneself a "journalist," then I would answer the above question in the affirmative.

UPDATE: In my haste to reply to Evan's initial question, I forgot to answer a followup question he had posed on whether I was impressed with the liberal Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for winning this year's George Polk Award for Legal Reporting, the first time that a blogger has won this prestigious award. The conservative in me is not a fan of the award's advisory panel consistently honoring liberal journalists, but the blogger in me is proud to see a fellow blogger, regardless of his ideology, win such an award, so kudos to Mr. Marshall.

1 comment:

Rottenchester said...

Is there a conservative equivalent to TPM? By that, I mean a blog that does its own original journalism while maintaining an overall conservative political outlook? I haven't seen one.