The LuLac Edition #2361, February 18th, 2013
WHAT IS A JOURNALIST?
Every time we do a post about a local issue that is reviewed by either a talk show host, a TV commentator or a reporter, a raging debate goes on about what exactly makes a Journalist. There are posts you see that I allow to be put up, posts you don’t see and others I just don’t bother with.
The definition of a journalist is this: a: a person engaged in journalism; especially: a writer or editor for a news medium b: a writer who aims at a mass audience 2 : a person who keeps a journal .
The definition of Journalism is: the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b: the public press c: an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium.
Okay, so if you look at those definitions and extend them to the electronic media, a journalist is someone who works in the news media, tries to appeal to a large audience and keeps track of what they are reporting. The craft of journalism is the gathering of news to present to the general public.
There are some posters who say that Talk Show hosts aren’t journalists. Same thing with TV Talk shows. How do we make that determination? A Talk Show host has to collect news and present it to the General Public, correct? How do they differ from the reporter in the field? And is a reporter from the Huffinton Post or the Daily Beast any less a reporter than one from the Citizen’s Voice or New York Times?
Here’s my take on what I think a Journalist is. First off, a Journalist doesn’t become one overnight just by calling themselves one. They work at a craft in a bona fide media operation. Once they have that level of experience in the trenches, even though they go on to another type of reporting, are they still a Journalist? I say yes. Is Bill O’Reilly a Journalist? Yes because prior to his entry into the Talk Show foray, he was a reporter for TV stations. Despite what his critics say, he had that base of experience.
Are Rush Limbaugh and John Webster Journalists? No, because they came from the entertainment field and even though they offer opinions, they do not have the on the street experience prior to their current positions to call themselves Journalists. Are Dr. David Madiera or Joe Peters, both who host shows on The Talker Journalists? Even though they both bring credentials in Health Care and Law Enforcement their jobs, the answer is no.
Are Nancy Kman, Sue Henry and Steve Corbett Journalists? In my opinion yes because Kman (with her Radio and TV news reporting) Henry (with her newspaper experience) and Corbett (with newspaper stints in Harrisburg, California and Wilkes Barre) bring that experience to the table. Just because you change the venue, doesn’t mean you give up the title or the quest for chronicling the truth. Just because both read commercials on their programs, does that diminish Sue Henry’s accomplishment of being the only person to get Diane Mellow to give an interview? Or Corbett uncovering the fact that Senator Mellow’s staff were selling tickets to his annual outing the very summer indictments were going down in Harrisburg to Senate staffers who were doing the same thing? Does reading a commercial trump that Journalistic pursuit? Does it trump that result?
If that’s the case, then the late Mike Wallace should posthumously be stripped of all of his awards. Wallace started out as a TV pitchman and Game Show Host in the 1950s. When he became a reporter there were many at CBS who scoffed at him but he made a name for himself by working as a Journalist.
On the Internet, how do you not call people like Mike Allen of Politico.com not a Journalist just because he bellows out “Happy Friday” every week on “Morning Joe?”
And bloggers, am I a Journalist? I say no. Even though I had been a radio reporter for two stations in the 70s, did TV work at WVIA and covered a few trials for WYLN a few years back does that make me a Journalist? My answer is no because there hasn’t been a significant body of work in that area.
Is Gort a Journalist even though as a blogger he has broken more than a few local stories by keeping his ear to the ground? Again, in my opinion no because prior to his blog, there wasn’t a significant body of work to give him those credentials.
How about Joe Valenti of Pittston Politics.com, is he a Journalist? The answer is yes because he owned a newspaper, reported in that newspaper the goings on of politics in Greater Pittston and transitioned that on to an online entity. If you read a hard copy of the Pittston Gazette from the 90s and Pittston Politics.com now, the issues and reporting are the same. The names have only changed. Again, body of work.
The advent of different types of communication through various media has blurred the lines somewhat. But anyone who previously worked as a reporter on a beat for more than five years, no matter where they transitioned to, be it talk show host, TV host or blogger can, in my opinion, lay claim to be called a Journalist.
When the late Walker Cronkite appeared on the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the 70s and Brian Williams did frequent guest cameos on “30 Rock”, no one questioned whether they were Journalists. If no one dared disqualify them, reading a Rehabilitation Facility or Blinds commercial should not call into questions anyone else. But hey, that’s only my opinion.
(Photo: LuLac archives).
RUBIO’S WATERI had to weigh in on the Marco Rubio water event. First off, let me say that the response to the State of the Union address has always been an invention of the media to prove they could be fair. It started during the Nixon administration when the networks gave the Democrats a shot to rebut. The only one who ever made hay out of his appearance was the late Senator Edmund Muskie who got more exposure in the early 70s for his reasoned response to a combative Nixon State of the Union. Most have been forgettable. And while we’re at it, is there now a Tea Party response to the response from the likes of Rand Paul? Really, what party is next, the “Is Franco still dead” party?
More is being said about Rubio’s reach for his water bottle than what was in his speech. And that’s unfortunate. Rubio should have used the old Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared”. Or never trust the guys behind the scenes.
When I first started my modest TV career at WVIA TV, I got great advice from the late Jerry Schumacher who was the long time Program Director there during the George Strimel years. (From 5 to 6PM the TV channel had Shows called “Phone 44”. I was the Friday host and got statewide politicians to talk about the issues. Or try to. It was not widely watched and most likely rarely remembered but it gave me valuable experience on how to be a host but also a guest).
Anyway, Schumacher told me two things, expected the unexpected and use the “SITS” method. The ‘SITS” method was, no matter what you do, “stay in the shot”. If you were dying of thirst or just plain dying, Stay In the Shot. Rubio’s little pirouette looked juvenile and the boyish Florida Senator can’t afford to appear that way. If it were me, I’d have had the little bottle of Poland Springs Water in my suit pocket. I don’t think this will have a terrible effect on Rubio’s political future but he’d be better off if he met a guy like Jerry Schumacher along the way.