Capstone, Journalism, Share

What is journalism?

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. The thing I can do with digital media is put it out there and revise it over and over again. I cannot commit to what I have here. As I’m trying to define journalism, journalists and their values, I’m realizing I just don’t have the right information. I haven’t taken an introduction to journalism course since 2004. While I have a deeper, better sense of what it is and what this community does, I cannot define it yet.

I’m digging deep back into my books, lectures and resources. Here are my first instincts that I plan to later redefine with more research.

Merriam Webster takes a traditional approach to it’s definition of journalism.

1a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media
1b : the public press
1c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium

2a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine
2b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation
2c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

MW essentially defines journalism as writing about facts and events prepared for publication (press, broadcasting). This definition loosely leaves out the role of editors, practiced writers, news analysis and private news networks.

General access to broadcasting tools like Facebook, twitter and bloggers means that anyone can be a journalist. Bloggers can be journalists for as long as our traditional idea journalists do not need carry a professional license.

Citizen Journalism (Mark Glaser, Media Shift)

“The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others…One of the main concepts behind citizen journalism is that mainstream media reporters and producers are not the exclusive center of knowledge on a subject — the audience knows more collectively than the reporter alone.”

Glaser dates citizen journalism back to at least the 18th century. Thomas Paine printed and distributed the Federalist Papers, home grown zines made in basements and Londoners posting mobile photos from the 7/7 bomb attacks are all examples of citizen journalism.

Social Journalism
Social and citizen journalism often overlap. Social journalism is directly tied to the medium, a social medium such as Facebook or Twitter. The difference is that the content producers, posting to their networks are writing with the intent to broadcast to their social communities. Their news values are different than those of traditional journalist and generally do not post content with the intent to inform the public about general civic matters but rather those that are high in social value.

Social journalism any news, media, information or press broadcasted through the means of social media like Facebook and Twitter. It is not required that the networks are absolutely open and public for social journalists to create social news. Social news is not necessarily gossip either.

Nina Mehta is a writer and product design leader in Brooklyn, New York. She began her design career in journalism and has been writing online for 20+ years. Nina is from outside Chicago and has since lived and worked in San Francisco, Berlin, London, and Tokyo. Learn about Nina at

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