Here’s a thought experiment: What is a journalist?
It used to be a pretty simple question. To be a journalist, you had to work for, well, a journal. A newspaper or magazine, certainly. Print people might grudgingly concede that television and radio journalists qualified. Everyone else? Not journalists. Well, maybe a freelancer or two. But that was it.
But now, in the Internet era, we know that definition has changed. But to what? If Facebook, Twitter and Instagram count as megaphones, and they do, does that mean anyone Facebooking, Tweeting or Instagramming is a journalist? At least maybe a “citzen-journalist” (whatever that means, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Here’s what brings this to mind. Over the weekend, I attended my nephew’s wedding. Lovely affair.
It’s also the sort of affair where the minister advises people at the beginning of the ceremony to silence their cellphones.
But as soon as the vows were said, the phones were back out and pictures were being taken. Naturally, I took my share through the evening (and it was a long evening — dinner, dancing, the works). At one point, a colleague asked me via Facebook: “Does your nephew know you’ve been facebooking his wedding? You have wall to wall coverage recorded for all time.”
To which I replied: “Observation: There were eight people at our table. At one point seven of them were on their phones. During the dancing, some people were shooting video from their phones and posting that. I may have actually been showing restraint by comparison.”
All of which was true. Each one of us was pumping out news and photos to our respective social media channels, from the middle-school girl across the table to the nearly 60-year-old woman at my right. So were we all journalists?
I think in many ways we all were. So if that’s case . . . where does that lead us? What are the opportunities?