What is a Journalist?

I am lost with the journalism ordeal. I feel as if I am being asked to not be a human being as I move into the world of being a reporter/photographer/technology perfector/editor/everything that goes into a single article (online and offline). I attended a SPJ conference in Portland, OR a few years back while I was working at The Torch at Lane Community College. It was a three day conference where each individual could pick the specific talks he/she found important to their career path. Along with those, each individual went to keynote speakers presentations who usually were very entertaining. In these conferences technology was of course a huge deal; however, even more so was the change that was taking place in many newsrooms across the nation. At the time, I believe I was a little uneducated in the material they were referring to. Now, I know what they were discussing as it relates to the journalism professions, which is the need to actually bring a little more “human” into the article because it actually can bring articles to life. The funny thing about all those professionals telling me those things is that I have yet to hear a teacher say they agree with the approach. Thus, I must say I am uneasy approaching news like I was told to at the conference. I mean granted they weren’t saying “write everything from your perspective” but at the same time they were saying “bring in emotions that are important to the situation if they will further the readers understanding.” I am looking to write more along the lines of magazines anyways; however, the scary thing is if I have to start as a news reporter that I should be very aware not to take part in organizations that may “damper” my reputation. I don’t agree with that approach because I believe outside of work I should be able to take part in what every other American is able to take part in every day. I should be able to have a personal blog where I get to discuss what ever issues are on my mind without it affecting the continuity and stories that I report on. After all, every journalist has an opinion and believes in things and just because they are not telling you them doesn’t mean they are not there. Thus, I think by being forthcoming with the beliefs is actually a more honest and ethical approach to allowing the public a personal view on your character instead of trying to hide it all from them to keep an illusion of “objectivity” with everything the reporter is involved in. I would say the idea seems to stretch far enough to tell a reporter to be hesitant in voting because it would be playing a part in the democratic system they are reporting on. I believe that idea is wrong and should be reevaluated by the many journalists already in the industry and also by the new journalists entering the field. I want to be a human being taking part in life even when I do have a job to do. I want to be an employee like everyone else. I would like to leave my job at work and my personal life at home and allow for my ideas and opinions to remain separate entities from the work that I am writing about. I wouldn’t go as far as the SPJ conference was talking about; however, I would like to see some changes in the stylistic qualities of news but I will save that conversation for another entry.  Until then, I will keep searching for a better idea of what journalist is.

An update for this is in a blog I recently came across working to provide a similar basis of understand.  I hope this furthers the conversation as it is important to question why you are in school (if you are a j-student) or what the media is out there to do and how you can know whether a person is reporting professionally or personally.

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