What Is A Journalist?
A $1.6 Billion defamation lawsuit against FOX News has further exposed the News Network's stunning duplicity. FOX News Anchor Sean Hannity admitted under oath that he never believed the lie that Donald Trump was cheated of victory in the 2020 presidential election. FOX CEO, Rupert Murdoch, admitted the same thing under oath. Private text messages from star Anchor Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson PROVE that the "journalists" from the most watched News company in America were deliberately lying to their viewers, for ratings.
It's been a whirlwind few months, and a great time to revisit our definitions.
Webster defines "Journalist" as "a person engaged in journalism, especially a writer or editor for a news medium." Dictionary.com says "Journalist" is "a person who writes for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or prepares news to be broadcast." I find these definitions are off the mark, particularly when the United States Constitution gives special privilege and acknowledgement for a Free Press. Yes, journalism can be a career ... but the title "Journalist" is a vaunted and hugely important role in a healthy society - not just a job.
I propose an alternate, better definition ...
"A JOURNALIST is someone who perceives the Real World with active intention, then genuinely attempts to share their perceptions with others."
"Active intention" means that the best Journalists hone and employ a sharpened skillset for both observation & communication. A capacity for research is valuable ... while investigation and Direct Experience are best. Journalists possess a curious, probing mind, with desire to ascertain reality, and to share what is True. Being a Journalist does not require employment in a large News organization - though this can be helpful if the aim is to be seen/heard by large audiences.
Here are 2 examples of what I mean.
If you're a parent, you are a Full-Time Journalist for your children. You help them understand things, by describing what's going on in the Real World. Experiences that they've never directly had - you fill in those blanks, and your words can become TRUTH for them. A parent who does this job poorly can leave the child stunted, confused, and the child will interact poorly with the real world, as they see and experience things through the wrong-headed lens provided by the parent. Good journalists and good parents do the difficult work of examining their own biases & limitations, to better discern reality.
One of my favorite people is a fellow Stony Brook University alumnus named Curt Hylton. My friend Curt lives with his lovely wife, Christina, in New York. He's a former football athlete who suffered a massive stroke many years ago, which partially paralyzed his left arm. On top of his personal struggles with recovery, Curt has chosen to be a Journalist on the issue of stroke. Curt reports on his Facebook and his Twitter with informative stories and observations. Followers get a daily dose of News about stroke warning signs, the recovery process, medical breakthroughs, and loads of inspiration about overcoming obstacles. Through his #Curtscalls, I've learned a great deal about the condition of stroke - giving me insight on the human condition that I otherwise wouldn't have. I'm so grateful for Curt's Journalism.
Notice how many times a day YOU serve as a Journalist, in one way or another, for different groups of people in your life. Also, notice the people from whom you learn and gain insight about the world, beyond your direct experience. Let us be intentional by refining our perceptions, improving our definitions and raising our discernment this year, as Journalists for each other.
Honesty & Empathy Let's Keep In Touch!