Who is a Professional Journalist?

Who would you want to perform surgery on you: the guy who went to med school, or the other guy who swears that he is really good at the game ‘Operation?’  I’d put my money on the med school graduate any day.

I view reporting the news the same way.  I want to get my news from a professional; someone who understands the ethical implications of their reporting and knows how to present it in the most interesting and informative way.  Any average Joe can see something happen and tweet about it. That doesn’t make him a journalist, he’s a blogger.

It doesn’t seem like a huge discrepancy, but it is. While bloggers have their place in the news cycle, as was articulated by NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, they are lacking the fundamental skills that separate amateurs and professionals.

For one, where does a blogger get their news? Is it overheard? Is it even true? Many people on the internet don’t bother to check their facts. There is no guarantee that what your reading is known to be true.


Photo credit: Washington and Lee University

In addition, and as cosmetically unimportant as it sounds, using a professional grade camera and equipment makes a difference. A journalist appears more skilled when they use a big camera. A large camera lets everyone around you know that this is what you do for a living; that you are trying to capture the news in the highest quality way.

Image License Copyright All rights reserved by Eric E Johnson

A smaller camera, like one on an iPhone, has its merits in that it is more discreet , but it feels more casual. When I use a big camera, I feel official. Using my iPhone makes me feel like I am recording my friends fooling around.  I don’t feel like I’m contributing anything worthy with it. It feels like I’m playing pretend, not being professional.


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