I don’t think it is truly possible to define who a journalist is. There is always going to be some situation that is an except or breaks the set standards, so why bothering defining what makes or doesn’t make a journalist; especially if it means excluding bloggers or nonsalaried reporters. The articles this week that talked about bloggers potentially being excluded from executive sessions in Oregon and a senator’s attempt to define real journalists were mind boggling are perfect examples of why people, especially government officials should not be trying to define what makes a journalist.
If a blogger is trying to cover government proceedings there is no reason he or she should not be considered a journalist. Even if a blogger isn’t trying to cover government proceedings, he or she should still be considered a journalist. There are varying degrees of what a journalist is and what he or she covers, and it doesn’t always fit into a perfect box of what a government would like to outline. Bloggers could be doing second had report, first hand reporting or media analysis; and all of these things classify them as journalists. If a blogger considers himself or herself a journalist and he or she can make a case, then there is no reason not to classify he or she as a journalist.
The second article about the shield law brought up the exclusion of nonsalaried journalists as not “real journalists.” Just because someone is no employed by a publication, does not mean he or she is not doing reporting where there may be the need to using confidential sources. Not all reporting is done for monetary benefit. Also, by excluding nonsalaried journalists from the definition, it would also be excluding freelance reporters. Many journalists spend some of their career doing freelance work, still producing quality journalism, but are paid by the article instead of a salary. So someone who freelances for The Nation, shouldn’t be given the same writes as a staff writer? Even though they are covering the same beat and writing similar stories with similar sources. It doesn’t make any sense.
Government officials should stay out of territory they do not understand. It would benefit themselves and the journalists they are trying to quiet.