Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

What is journalism revisited…

Good morning, everyone...

I'm putting on my thinking cap this morning.

Gary Graham asks in his News Diary Blog, “What is Journalism”? I have found, over the years, that in any discussion of journalism, you are likely to receive nearly as many answers as you have journalists, but this morning as I attempt to answer this question, first, so that I adhere to the unwritten rules of journalism itself, using the auspices of the Internet, I will attempt to clinically define it.

It is defined by Webster's Online as:
1.The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
2.Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
3.The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
4.Newspapers and magazines.
5.An academic course training students in journalism.
6.Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.
Now that is a pretty broad brush, wouldn't you say? It covers just about everything from newspaper journalism all the way to science fiction and even TV and radio broadcasting. One could almost say that journalism can be best described as any attempt of a writer to communicate with others using the printed word. According to the Poynter Institute for media studies, it should be considered as an art form, and goes on to state “In the most fundamental sense, journalism involves reporting on ideas and events as they occur — the gathering and presentation of information on subjects that may vary each day from dogs that bite children to developments in ideas about the universe.

So, we have here a fairly diverse view of how some critical thinkers of our time consider journalism to be, or viewed another way, how it should function. Pretty much all the sources I cited above agree on one item: it is a written/spoken assessment of the “here and now”, but which can be presented in a comparative sense to the view of history. People who write fiction novels are not necessarily journalists; they are writers, which is pointed out again by the Poynter Institute in a number of places much the same as People who write poetry are poets. Journalists write about news, well, sort of.

There are also two abstract views which do not necessarily agree with one another. One suggests that journalists are borne into this world, and yet another states that journalists are created by instructors and experiences. Since I began writing at the age of ten years, many instructors and college professors assumed that perhaps I was one of the former; as history would prove out, since my style of writing was so radically affected by various professors and several Editors, by default I became one of the latter.

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.