Defining “Journalist” – A Matter of Societal Trust

The influx of independent journalists and bloggers into the media landscape have prompted conversations about the definition of the title “journalist.” It is being debated how much access an independent should have to events that mainstream journalists are able to enter easily.

An example of this debate was sparked when bloggers were being denied access to the Oregon executive sessions. The host city wanted to require that media was “institutionalized,” “well-established” and produced at least 25 percent news content. This would have excluded bloggers from the situation.

Thinking about the issue, it is difficult to define when a blogger becomes a journalist, and how a blogger can prove his or her credibility. It takes a lot more work for a blogger to be established enough to gain access to exclusive events. Where as a reported employed by a news organization instantly gains credibility. It appears that the brand attached to your name is more important that your ethics as a reporter. When considering this reality, it becomes clear that a blogger must take the time to brand his or herself in order to gain trust.

This trust is a fundamental element in the difficulties that bloggers may face. When pursuing a story and gaining sources, it is much easier to get people to talk to you if you have a known news brand attached to your name. If not, people may question your intentions and credibility. In order for bloggers to be considered part of the journalistic pool, there will have to be a fundamental societal change in the way that journalists are perceived. This change in mindset may take time, but will eventually come as society becomes more comfortable with trusting independent bloggers.

Defining “Journalist” – A Matter of Societal Trust

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