What is a Journalist?

Credit: The-Lane-Team on Flickr (CC)

Well, if that isn’t the $500,000 question.

Dan Gillmor is coming out with a book called Mediactive, encouraging “media literacy” over just media consumption. In the larger picture, he asks what I’m sure we’ll be asking many times on this site.

Who is a journalist?

It could be just a matter of semantics, but it also has legal consequences. What about shield laws? Those are meant to protect journalists. This makes states get into the dirty business of licensing journalism. But how about making shield laws to protect acts of journalism themselves.

Remember the iPhone 4 scandal around six months ago? A blogger found a prototype of the upcoming iPhone left at a bar. He brought it home, took pictures and made a video of it, and shopped it around to news organizations. This has spawned great questions on journalism ethics, but in the tech industry this was a newsworthy item. The blogger committed an act of journalism, but he was not a licensed journalist. When the police went into his home and confiscated everything, including his business cards, the debate was whether California’s shield laws protected him.

Should shield laws protect journalists or acts of journalism?

Read Gillmore’s piece for an interesting debate point to store in your brain pan.

Who’s a journalist? Does that matter?

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09 2010

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  1. 1

    Thought-provoking stuff that every journalist should consider. By the way, it's Gillmor, sans E. :-)

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    • Curator-in-chief #

      Thank you. Habit.

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