What is journalism?

(As in today, right now)

Convened by Matt Thompson
Reported by Jarah Euston

– Linda Grdina
– Nora Paul
– Dan Gillmor
– Ken Sands
– Sarah Stuteville
– Jan Schaffer
– Jarah Euston

Two definitions: a lexicon and a definition by examples

American Heritage 2000 definition
1. The collecting, writing, editing, and presenting of news or news articles in newspapers and magazines and in radio and television broadcasts.
2. Material written for publication in a newspaper or magazine or for broadcast.
3. The style of writing characteristic of material in newspapers and magazines, consisting of direct presentation of facts or occurrences with little attempt at analysis or interpretation.
4. Newspapers and magazines.
5. An academic course training students in journalism.
6. Written material of current interest or wide popular appeal.

Wikipedia entry

Root of the word: jour, French for day

Ken: “journaling is not journalism” I disagree

Nora: there are different intentions that fall under the category of journalism. There’s the car wreck, there’s the opinion piece, there’s the how to baste a turkey

Sara: blogs from Iraqi soldiers were some of the best war news out there

Is this journalism:

Newspaper metro section?

Yes No
Community calendar x
Crime report x
Gonzo journalism
Photo with description x
Movie review
Katie Couric goes through yoga exercises x
Horoscope x
Funny pages x
Bridge column x
Movie listings
Sports scores x
A sermon
Oprah goes to New Orleans x

Data can be journalism, but is it always?

Sarah: contextualize data and facts and that’s what makes it journalism
Dan: London Underground photo, was that an act of journalism, I think yes

Matt: context makes it journalism is slippery

Advertizing can be useful. A non journalist doesn’t care if the movie listings are paid advertisement or not

Ken: I write ads on how to use the website. It’s purely informational but it’s a house ad. Two weeks ago I had one “what the heck’s a blog?”
Dan: an article from one publication gets printed in another as an advertisement

Transparency in itself can create journalism.

Dan: I believe its an element that replaces that unattainable objectivity


Sports scores: on a team’s website it’s journalism until they lie

Nora: maybe journalism’s like pornography, you know it when you see it.

Dan: when it comes to the law and the distinction that’s made for journalists is it’s put out for the public

Judith Miller she gathered info and didn’t actually produce anything concrete. Part of journalism is collecting the info, the act of publication is the conclusion of journalism

Ken: does the number of readers make it journalism?

Facts: A collection of facts is journalism


When you’re out to inform the public that’s part of the process but what if you’ve defined the public as your family? No court will offer protection

Soldiers trading photos of dead bodies for porn- is that journalism? Yes

Porn is NOT journalism

The kama sutra can be journalism

Service journalism is about helping you through the day. Instructions can be journalism

Funny pages: some is entertainment, some is editorialized. Mostly no, but some can be.

Graphic art can absolutely be journalism


Matt: I think everyone past the age of 25 has been a journalist at come point in their life

Does the public can about this debate? Yes, but they’ve moved on from this into “is this useful information?”

Do people need a place where they know they can always go to find “journalism”?

Jason Blair was never journalism, just turned out we were fooled

Trust through triangulation. Don’t just go to one news source

Big difference between journalism and good journalism.

Matt: my most relied upon journalism provider is wikipedia

Is a dictionary journalism?

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