What’s a Journalist?

In an era where anybody with a keyboard can create a blog (akin to publishing a newspaper) can *anyone* be a journalist? What is the definition of journalist? The credentials? Is there a difference between a journalist and a writer? Between a journalist and a blogger? Does it matter? To who?

I’ve become interested in the topic recently because, while doing research for an article I was writing on how journalists are using social media, I received a wide range of responses from “journalists” which ran the gamut from students to bloggers to people with jobs at various media outlets. Are they *all* journalists?

As a freelance writer, I’ve been writing articles and books for years and have come to call myself a “freelance business journalist.” But, am I really a journalist? I don’t have a degree in journalism. I have never actually worked on the staff of a media outlet.

Does it matter?

As the lines between traditional and new media blur, I think it does. As a consumer of information I need/want to know that the information I’m consuming is credible. In the past, there were gatekeepers that did this for me. Today I’m more responsible for conducting my own critical analysis of the sources of information I choose to rely on.

It can be good to not have unnecessary filters determining what I have access to. On the other hand, without those filters I may be more at risk of receiving – and potentially acting upon – faulty or flawed information.

But maybe that was always the case?

No answers today – only question. What do you think?

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