Truth or Fiction?
There's a minor war taking place in the United States today, pitting the "journalism" profession against the "amateur" authors on the Internet - the people that create and maintain "weblogs" - personal web documents open to all. Some of the broadsides, especially from the MSM, have been wicked - and poorly aimed. One of the chief complaints of the MSM is that the bloggers are "amateurs, who have no standing in the journalism profession".
In one respect, the criticism fits - most of us haven't gone to journalism school. Just because there's a school for it, however, doesn't make it a "profession". There are no tests, no certifications, for journalists as there are for doctors, lawyers, and many others that truly ARE "professionals". Nor is journalism school all that strenuous to get through (of course, neither are "schools of education", but that's another story). Most bloggers - those that aren't under 30, at least - have as much experience with the world as the average journalist, and have that experience to share with the rest of the world. The argument can be condensed down to one clear question: does the experience of the journalist or that of the blogger best suit the question being discussed?
It would be good if every journalist could set up a file that others could access and read, listing his/her training and experience, and providing links to what they've written. Bloggers have archives, which not only include their words, but the comments their words have inspired from others. We, the general public, can access those archives and see what our blogger hosts have said, sometimes back four or five years into the past. While a Lexis/Nexus search can provide some indication of what a journalist has written, many of those articles are no longer accessible except in a limited location, and quite frequently at more than modest expense.
Most Lexis/Nexus searches don't cover what's been "published" on the Internet. Posting anything to the Internet is a valid form of publication - information, opinion, and even spurious comments have been recorded and made available for public consumption. My very old Funk & Wagnall's Standard College Dictionary defines "publish" as "1. To print and issue (a book, magazine, map, etc.) to the public. 2. To make known or announce publicly; promulgate; proclaim." Both of those definitions can be said to relate to the Internet and electronic dissemination of one's words. The old-fashioned publishing industry doesn't want to admit it, but the truth is, the Internet has supplemented, and in some areas replaced, formal (solid presentation) publication, just as radio and television have supplemented, and in some areas, replaced, printed newspapers and celluloid movies.
This brings us back to credentials: what credentials do I have to post things to this weblog? What are the credentials of other Internet posters? How do those match up against the "professional" journalist?
I've posted some of those credentials on the sidebar of my weblog. I think every blogger should do the same. Then let's all demand the same type of information from those that criticize us!