Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who defines "journalist?"

Is anyone with a cell phone a journalist? Are you a journalist only if you are affiliated with a recognized news outlet?

Does publishing a blog post make you a journalist?

All interesting questions as the definition of journalism grows increasingly blurry. Here's some food for thought from CJ Cornell via the MediaShift Idea lab:

Never has technology unraveled an industry so fast that its professionals no longer agree on what it is that they do. It's not surprising; the sharp line between journalist and non-journalist is so faded that few can see it anymore.

If someone happens to be at the right place at the right time and captures a significant event on his cell phone, it will be newsworthy to some audience. At the moment he tweets the image, does he magically transform from a bystander into a journalist? If he is an employee of The New York Times, most would have little trouble classifying him as a journalist. But if it also was his very first uploaded photo, then really what is the difference between the NY Times employee and the bystander? Who is the journalist?

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