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It’s now almost cliche to talk about the death (or metamorphosis) of newspapers, and the evolution of journalism as a craft and profession. Ink-stained reporters and editors used to be the true gatekeepers of information, able to amplify or suppress stories, scandals, and secrets simply by printing information or not. This is obviously no longer the case, as Twitter, Facebook, CNN iReporters, bloggers, hobbyists–you name it–have all become some form of news agent. I am reluctant to use the term “journalist” to describe some of these actors, or “journalism” to describe what they do, because these terms are something special to me…a journalist. I have proudly called myself a journalist after mixing in different media, paying my dues, to learn what responsibility and influence a microphone or notepad can have. It is true many types of people can report events, but are they all journalists? The Poynter Institute’s Kelly McBride said news organizations (and their journalists) can provide needed context to information, when the role of gatekeeper has been changed or abolished. She was specifically commenting on the ‘manifesto’ of a still-at-large LAPD “renegade cop,” but I think the observation of a market-driven change in what journalists do and are is important.
Just as journalism has been facing epic transformations, my views of the industry have soured. It is not breaking news to say a journalist is disappointed in journalism–it is almost a honed skill to complain about the decline of quality in between the rare journalistic triumphs. But I am ever more bruised by the realization that what I learned about journalism, and have come to identify as the ideals supposedly supported by my noble profession, may no longer hold true most of the time. And the tasks, duties, and truly ‘noble’ parts of journalism, are often outsourced to other professions or industries, only to be reported on after-the-fact by journalists. And if journalists are not the ones doing the true journalistic work any more, then is there any reason to defend journalism as a profession? Or just journalism as a craft practiced by anyone?
Continue reading “‘Journalistic Outsourcing:’ Not the journalism I grew up with..”