January 21, 2014

Horse 1597 - I Am Not A Real Journalist

I open this post with a great spot of naval gazing; looking at two very different comments that arrived recently:

you're not a real journalist. you're only commenting on government policy. that's not journalism, that's leftist trolling.
- Yoda's Ghost, 20th Jan 2014

Oh my goodness--haha this is amazing. :) Found your blog via the nerdfighter  forums; will definitely follow. Googol. Love your writing style.
- Bailey Anne, 20th Jan 2014

Two very different comments; two very different sentiments. Whilst it is true that compliments tend to oil the gears of one's ego most excellently, often it is the negative comments that I find the most fun. The internet is generally a land where snark grows as far as they eyes can see but even wild snark can produce fruit that can be quite tasty.

I have visited the question of whether or not bloggers are journalists before (in Horse 1384) and concluded that bloggers probably are. As far as I can tell, lack of formal education in journalism isn't necessarily a hindrance.
For instance News' Andrew Bolt doesn't appear to have any formal qualifications and yet he is quite successful. Okay, whether you agree with his opinions is another matter entirely but the point of the matter is that from a technical standpoint, his opinion pieces, are actually reasonably well thought out and display a high command of the English language. He obviously writes for an audience and an audience he understands well. In fact it probably can be argued that from a Flesch–Kincaid readability test perspective, he writes too well and in that respect, despite not having any any formal qualifications, his material is excellent.

So then, having established that one doesn't need a formal qualification in journalism, the only real distinction that can be drawn is that as the OED suggests, that a journalist is 'a person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television'
I do not do this. Actually increasingly with newspapers buying in articles from sources like Associated Press and TV companies buying stories from Al Jazeera and the BBC, I'm wondering if the number of real journalists has headed even further south than I thought.

This brings me to the second clause of Yoda's Ghost's comment, that I'm 'only commenting on government policy'. I suppose that that might be a fair cop? I don't know really. Would I comment on something that wasn't government policy but should be? Would I comment on something that wasn't government policy and shouldn't be? Possibly yes to all combinations of those type of questions. Whether or not it's journalism is another question and whether or not it's 'leftist trolling' is I suppose is a matter of both my bias and the person making the comment.

Famously though (and I reproduce this because it is simply stunning), there are sections of established media which utterly HATE people like me. No really, you need to see this, it's a doozie.

http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2010/10/08/175671_opinion.html
The great thing about newspapers is that, love us or hate us, we're the voice of the people. We represent the community, their views, their aspirations and their hopes. We champion North Queensland's wins and we commiserate during our losses.
We try to make North Queensland a better place to live. We are the media of choice that our business and political leaders turn to when they want to deliver their message to the masses.
...
Bloggers, on the other hand, represent nothing. They whinge, carp and whine about our role in society, and yet they contribute nothing to it, other than satisfying their juvenile egos.
Bloggers are fond of trying to suggest that newspapers are on the way out, that we've lost our relevance and importance to the community.
The fact that every week, three in four people read the Townsville Bulletin in North Queensland, and that we've been around since 1881, underpins the shallowness of their argument and reveals their lack of understanding of a subject.
The Macquarie Dictionary refers to someone who writes anonymously as "lacking individuality", or lacking individual characteristics. We prefer to call them cowards.
- Townsville Bulletin, 8th Oct 2010*.

The only qualification that the Townsville Bulletin made that day to suggest its superiority is that it had been around since 1881. I love how it single-handedly declared without qualification that newspapers are 'the voice of the people' and that bloggers 'represent nothing' and 'contribute nothing'. 
It's also rather amusing that immediately after declaring that they are the voice of the people, within five lines they also trumpet that 'We are the media of choice that our business and political leaders turn to when they want to deliver their message to the masses.'
There's nothing like being two voices at the same time is there?

Is Journalism therefore itself, purely a matter of professionalism and income? It would seem then that Yoda's Ghost may very well be right. The truth is that under the OED's conditions, I am not a real journalist. Moreover, I didn't really claim to be one either. If I was, then by definition, I should be paid for it; which I am not. However, if just one person 'loves my writing style' then like Robert Frost taking the road less traveled by... that has made all the difference.

*Actually via the Wayback Machine. The Townsville Bulletin (who aren't "cowards") accidentally threw this down the Memory Hole.
http://web.archive.org/web/20110822051340/http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/article/2010/10/08/175671_opinion.html

1 comment:

Bailey Anne said...

Woo, featured for my first comment. Glad I could make the difference! And thanks!

Seeing as you haven't claimed to be a journalist as far as I can tell, seems to me that yoda's the one trolling. :-/

Also that linked article is... brilliantly awful; are we sure they weren't trolling too? Ugh. It came off as "I'm terrified they might be right so I have to call them cowards." Some bloggers are cowards, I'm sure; just as some "real" journalists are. Categorically dismissing all bloggers is just ignorant.