It’s spring in Springfield, so in that sense I’m glad to be back from my visit with Doug McGill, in Rochester, Minnesota. We had a great time jawboning about the state of journalism and putting together our proposal for a colloquium on the topic “Who is a journalist?” I think we have a strong proposal. Now the waiting game begins.
Boiled way down, here’s what we decided: Commercial news organizations do not get to decide who counts as a journalist; audiences get to decide who counts. So would-be journalists must create legitimacy among the publics they would serve. And we suggest three ways that may be done outside of a traditional newsroom: 1) be loyal to the audience first, 2) make the invisible visible (i.e. cover those people and topics the so-called mainstream media ignore), and 3) operate with a discipline of verification and as a custodian of facts. Do these things and you may properly call yourself a journalist.
(Alert Rhetorica readers my be snorting: “But you used to claim that journalism required an editorial process! What gives?” Well, this: I’m apparently changing my mind about that. More anon.)