DEFINING "JOURNALISM"I have been calling myself a practicing "Journalist" for approximately 57 years and in researching various sources for writing this blog I found it extremely interesting to see how the role and status of journalism has evolved over the years.
Let's start with a basic definition of a "JOURNALIST" from Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
Yes, that is a definition I can recognize. But wait, Wikipedia takes the term JOURNALISM much further. Click this link to read the full report, including the embedded links.:1. (originally) The keeper of a personal journal, who writes in it regularly.
This detailed reference chronicles the evolution of the changing multi-media channels of communications, the multi-cultural interpretations of the role of journalism in various political societies, and the professional and ethical standards we see debated daily in "the media".Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the "news of the day" and that informs society to at least some degree. The word applies to the occupation (professional or not), the methods of gathering information, and the organizing literary styles. Journalistic media include: print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.
Here is an outline of the Wikipedia article linked above:
- Role -- and 4.1 Elements
- Professional and ethical standards -- and 5.1 Failing to uphold standards
- Legal status -- and 6.1 Right to protect confidentialty of sources
- See also -- 7.1 Journalism Reviews
- References, Notes and Sources
- Further reading
- External links
BLOGGERS AS JOURNALISTS?
The Wiki article also explores how "bloggers" fit into the definition of journalists. In the Production section I learned interesting details about an FTC ruling that applies to bloggers.
In the United States, journalism is produced by media organizations or by individuals. Bloggers are often, but not always, journalists. The Federal Trade Commission requires that bloggers who receive free promotional gifts, then write about products, must disclose that they received the products for free. This is to eliminate conflicts of interest and protect consumers.
Here is a term I had never heard of when I was pursuing my academic preparation or when I began teaching college courses in Journalism and Mass Communications. Again, citing Wikipedia:
Fake news is news that is not truthful or is produced by unreliable media organizations. Fake news is easily spread on social media. Readers can determine fake news by evaluating whether the news has been published by a credible news organization. In the US, a credible news organization is an incorporated entity; has an editorial board; and has a clear division between editorial and advertising departments. Credible news organizations, or their employees, belong to one or more professional organizations such as the American Society of News Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters & Editors, or the Online News Association. All of these organizations have codes of ethics that members abide by. Many news organizations have their own codes of ethics that guide journalists' professional publications. The New York Times code of standards and ethics is considered particularly rigorous.
ACCURATE, FAIR AND BALANCE REPORTINGReading, watching or listening to news reporting today drives me crazy! As my journalist's biography below details, I was trained, practiced, and passed along my ethical commitment to "accurate, fair, and balanced reporting". We can debate this issue at length on the social media pages that now shape our sources of "news". I won't change my belief on what a journalist should always be committed to doing.
MY ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL JOURNEYThis topic has given me lots of time to think about my writing experiences and time to reflect on how Journalism has changed in so many ways over my lifetime. First, this is all about ME! LOL
I actually wrote my first published article in the student newspaper, the "Hoover Hornet", while in the 7th grade. It was about one of our classmates who was back in the hospital fighting polio. I actually knew of Paul's plight since he had polio and was treated at the same hospital as my older brother Frank who had polio as a teenager. I wrote that all our students should send a get-well card to Paul while he was in Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA. THEY SENT MANY CARDS and I thought I had made a difference in his life! That was 57 years ago!!!
All through junior and senior high school my desire to write for the school newspaper and other publications became my passion. At Highlands High School I was the sports editor for the "Clansman" in my junior year. In my senior year I transferred to the "new" high school and was the first editor-in-chief for the Foothill High School "Hoof Beats". I continued my studies at the local community college and again wore the title of editor of the American River College "Beaver" newspaper and the "Panorama Magazine". I earned an AA degree in "Language/Literature: Journalism" and then transferred to San Jose State [College].
During these early years I was actually PAID for selling advertising and helping the editor producing our monthly neighborhood "Foothill Farms Bugler". I spent my college summers working for the "Sacramento Suburban Newspapers". The "Green Sheets", defined by the color of their newsprint, were the annoying free newspapers that were thrown onto your driveway or into your favorite flower garden every Thursday. They contained community news re-written from press releases and carried localized advertising in nine separate editions. My resume lists my job title was "Assistant Editor" as I worked in the Editorial Department as a writer and in Production doing page layout and, literally, cutting and pasting up the production pages before technology made these tasks much easier.
FROM PRINT TO BROADCAST AND MULTI-MEDIA COMMUNICATONSMy years at San Jose State were during the era of campus faculty and anti-war riots of the late 1960s. I shifted my journalistic training from "print" to "broadcasting" and earned my B.A degree in Radio-Television Journalism. Once again I wore the title of editor-in-chief of the SJS Radio-TV News Center and lead our staff to a national award for Radio Reporting for coverage of the riots.
This was a defining time for sharpening my journalistic ethics. I was (and still am) an outspoken advocate of ACCURATE, FAIR AND BALANCE REPORTING. I was one of the first females admitted to the Sigma Delta Chi, Professional Society of Journalists and was sworn in at the then all-male San Francisco Press Club. We changed that organization's membership rules!
FROM STUDENT TO PROFESSIONALAfter college I began my professional career at KXTV-Channel 10 which was a CBS affiliate station at that time in Sacramento, CA. Unfortunately, the General Manager was not encouraging about my seeking a career as a News Producer in their newsroom. "We had a woman in that role once and she didn't work out!" That was in 1970 and it obviously sent shock waves through my body. I did get a job in the Promotions Department where I could write 0:02, 0:05 and 0:10 news department "promos": "Watch the News tonight at 11". I also became a television program trivia guru providing answers daily to viewers who were trying to settle a bet over what character was in what program! Not the best use of my training as a journalist! I did, however, get to research and report back to the viewer! Ethically, I never accepted any gifts for my efforts! LOL
In 1972 I left the station to start my family and a year later I had my daughter in a car seat in my classroom or office while I started my 32-year career with Cosumnes River College as a Journalism Instructor (later the title was changed to "Professor") and Public Information Officer (PIO). I wore many hats during that career but I always practiced my ethical commitment to accuracy and fairness. While advising college student newspapers and student government groups or supervising the various departments that reported to me I would share and model my ethical standards.
I ended my academic career in 2004 after spending many years both in the classroom and as Dean of the Communications, Visual and Performing Arts Area. As the California Central Valley Study Abroad Consortium Director I opted to leave management and return to the classroom in 2002 where I taught a semester in London, England. This opportunity also gave me first-hand experience teaching "Global Mass Communications", "History of Film " (emphasizing British and European films), "British Life and Culture" (including field trips to the BBC), and "Media Stereotyping: Race and Gender in the Media".