WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Trying to Define Who is a Journalist

Oct 22, 2013

The Shop Talk panelists kick around the idea of defining who should be considered a journalist.

Thomas Kent, the standards editor of The Associated Press, recently wrote about the issue on the Huffington Post. It’s a timely topic because the U.S. Senate is working on a media shield law to protect confidential sources used by reporters.

In the past, journalists were generally considered to be reporters who worked for outlets such as a newspaper, magazine, radio station, or television station.  But now there are freelance reporters, bloggers, and others who also engage in journalism even though they don’t work for a so-called “traditional” media organization.

Panelist Lisa Kernek pointed out there was a move to professionalize journalism early in the 20th Century. There was even talk of requiring reporters to get a license, but ultimately journalism schools were started with the hope of raising reporting standards.

Panelist Jasmine Garcia thinks it’s important to protect journalists with a shield law. But she’s concerned lawmakers will come up with too narrow of a definition of who should be considered a journalist.