Welcome everyone. Starting in a minute, Alan Bass and Jacqui Banasznski on panel: "I'm a journalist -- no, really." Hashtag for this one is #CAJ16pro
Alan Bass starts off by knocking down the premise. The question is not who's a journalist, he says. It's what is journalism.
"Journalism as we understand it today is a fairly new phenomenon." We've been shy to answer question of what is journalism because there was no need, Alan says.
We were in a powerful position in the past because anyone who wanted to reach the public had to either take out an ad or approach a journo. - Alan
In the past, freedom of the press used to belong to those who owned one.
The internet blew that model all to hell. We actually have freedom of the press now. - Alan
If you disseminate media and you don't have a costume or a laugh track, you're a journalist according to one definition, says Alan. But most journos take the responsibilities associated with freedom of the press more seriously.
What worries me today is that the cozy little home we had in TV and newspapers and radio stations when anybody could make money, that's gone. For a long time, we were under the illusion that the business of media was journalism. But licensing fights happened before journalism was a major presence in media.
He wants to talk about professionalization. But people get wary and wonder if he means licensing.
The history of media is one of getting away from journalism. Look at comics and horoscopes in papers. - Alan
"The thing that I worry about us losing is the core of journalism. Not news." - Alan
"What journalism did was evolve to give people news they could depend on." - Alan
There will always be news, but whether it's gathered according to ethical philosophies is more and more at risk. Staffrooms are being cut, reporters are being asked to do more. - Alan
Any idiot can re-write a press release, but to actually search out news, question the powerful, and continue to dig, is at the core of journalism, and makes it central to democracy. -Alan
Two things drive him crazy about what journalists talk about when they talk about journalism: 1. We're always talking about problems, not solutions 2. We have a nasty tendency to blame others for our problems. -Alan
"I'm a fan of the formal professionalization of journalism." - Alan. Jacqui Banaszynski immediately asks him what he means.
There is no one model for professionalization, but Alan thinks it would involve a code of ethics we commit ourselves to. Doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to j-school (he didn't), but people going into journalism have to demonstrate that they know what that means. Maybe a test.
Then they'd get designation.
Also there would be dues, that go towards professional development. Like this conference. So energizing. Why isn't something like this mandatory? -Alan
Would also mean there would be a body that the public could complain to when journos use bad methodology. Could repair horribly tattered relationship with public. -Alan
We've had a lot of these discussions and given up and moved on, says Jacqui.
Jacqui wants to put 3-4 things on table for discussion.
1. J-school isn't necessary, but understanding of journalism is necessary. Knowing difference between TMZ and local newspaper.
The notion that anybody around the world is a journalist now because they can publish, is problematic because so many people live in poverty and don't have those tools. It's a class issue.
Jacqui says she doesn't trust government to do policing of journalism.
Press oversight boards in US have been very mixed bags. Often because they're very political. - Jacqui
Ombudsmen and political editors are a good idea, but in practice don't have much independence. - Jacqui
Jacqui says she was recently on a flight in first class. Passenger beside her asks her what she did for a living. She answered. And he asked, "How much of what you write do you make up? 50%? 60%?"
Jacqui answered with a question - what do you do for a living? He sold pharmaceutical supplements like weight loss drugs. "So how many studies do you guys just ignore, make up, or lie about?"
So she ended the conversation. He'd already made up his mind. So she just sees it as her role to do the best job she can.
Professionalization doesn't have to mean government interference unless you accept government funding, says Alan. Says that risk is incredibly over-blown.
Hard to have an intelligent conversation about professionalization because it's common wisdom that it's wrong, says Alan. But it used to be common wisdom that homosexuality was wrong.
Into Q & A now. We created this monster, says audience member who's worked in TV. We invented the term citizen journalism when we asked our audiences for footage.
Jacqui says that in the old days, when people put a quarter in the newspaper box, she felt like they were paying her to babysit City Council, because most people don't have time to pay attention.
Questions to ask of citzen footage from Jacqui: have we verified it independently? have we sourced it properly?
Pet pictures are something that could be done by readers, they would be cuter and better, and reporters could do real reporting. -Jacqui
Alan agrees, total waste of journalists' time and skills to do pet stories. And to proof the comics every day.
Technologically-enhanced witnesses are not citizen journalists. -Alan
Another question from an audience member: Does a journalist need to work for a big org? Can they run their own company? If it comes down to how they're making money, where's the line? Freelance? Independent? For non-profit or charity?
There are more and more contact workers hopping from one org to another, answers Alan. They'd benefit a lot from being part of a professional organization that could be a fora for common issues.
Media accreditation is also an issue, replies audience member. If you're not part of one of seven huge media organizations, it's hard to get in the door.