WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Who is a Journalist?

Oct 18, 2017

A list of journalists arrested in the U.S. this year shows some are from well-known outlets such as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Getty Images. Others are independent and freelance journalists, which got the Shop Talk crew wondering how to determine who qualifies to be called a journalist.

Panelist Will Buss said he’s known many valid freelance journalists but he feels a healthy dose of skepticism is needed regarding freelancers and independent reporters.  He said it’s easy for someone who’s passionate about an issue or a cause to pose as an independent journalist.

Buss said it comes down to a matter of who you’re going to trust, and he puts his trust in news organizations that have proven themselves over time.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she would be uncomfortable trying to decide who should be called a journalist and who should not. 

Crighton said some countries in Latin America certify journalists, either through the government or a non-governmental organization.  She does not favor doing that in the U.S., though she noted many Latin American journalists feel they are well compensated and believe they have more bargaining power because they are certified.

Panelist Rich Egger said journalists in the former Soviet Union probably thought they were well compensated too, but he does not favor elooHa state-run news agency in the U.S. He also questioned why Fox News is considered a legitimate news organization. He considers the name an oxymoron and said the channel’s content often looks more like propaganda than news.