Saturday, July 09, 2005

CJR is holier than thou

Somebody named Samantha Henig posts on Columbia Journalism Review some rather idiotic remarks in defense of a position unfortunately held by many so-called professionals, which runs something like this: "YOU don't have standards, only I have standards, only I have the credentials and YOU don't."

Rather like a child deciding who's going to be odd-man out. But it looks like she's denigating bloggers, only in this case, it doesn't work.

"But if being a reporter has some journalistic standards attached to it, then only those upholding such standards should qualify for the title. (And if those standards don't exist, then, well, we better pack up and find new work.)

"The same goes for journalism. Just because citizens have a new way of recording and transmitting that fodder hardly means that it's time to call them journalists."

Journalists have traditionally never had credentials of any sort, other than the school of hard knocks. The awarding of a degree in "journalism" is a rather recent phenomenom; previously, a lad showed up in the city room, fetched ashtrays and ran copy, wiped up the spilled booze, ran out for cigars and to the supply closet for more typewriter ribbon, and then, after a year or so, he might be sent out to cover a flower show. Enough flower shows, then he might write an obit or two, etc., etc. That's how it was done for a very long time.

You're a journalist if you say you are. And since I wrote and published my first article when I was 15 and have been writing and publishing ever since, I've probably been at it a hell of a lot longer than Ms Henig. As a freelance photographer, I have worked for all the major newsmagazines. That I choose the electronic medium, rather than recycled bed linens to spread my views is neither here nor there. That I choose to call myself a "blogger" is neither here nor there. The product is what defines who is and isn't a journalist.


n 1: a writer for newspapers and magazines 2: someone who keeps a diary or journal [syn: diarist, diary keeper]"

Ms Henig bleats about "standards." Swell. Given the state of reportage in most corporate swill media today, from newspapers to magazines to (shudder) television, I can't imagine what she's talking about. Does she have any? Given the tone of her whining, I think I would much prefer to read Blame Bush or Newsfare or skippy or even some of my old stuff than her moaning. Certainly the tone, the breadth and depth of knowledge of these bloggers is by any standards professional.

Ms Hening needs to go back to fetching coffee.

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