Monthly Archives: July 2009

Food Porn

What is Journalism?

This past Friday, as I am often wont to do, I got into a discussion on Twitter with some of my fellow news media nerds (and I mean “nerds” in the most endearing of terms). This time it was me, @thefuturewasnow @kategadiner @ourmaninchicago @marcusist and @whet having a chat about what constitutes journalism. Is a blogger a journalist? Is there such a thing as a blog journalist? Is blogging simply a medium or something more?

It all started with this typically opinionated remark from yours truly.

In our brief exchanges, I can’t really say we came to any sort of consensus. It made me wonder though: what IS the “official” definition of journalism and does it still fit in today’s rapidly changing media landscape?

Merriam-Webster defines it thusly:

1 a: the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b: the public press c: an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium2 a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest

The first part seems fairly unassailable, but the second is where it gets potentially complicated.

These days, when the public seems to have a voracious appetite for more and more slanted reporting, might there not be a discrepancy between recording only the facts and writing to appeal to current popular taste? And if so, is real journalism in danger of being subsumed by the shrill punditocracy that seems to dominate both airwaves and interwebs? Indeed, the only remaining pillar of objectivity seems to be print newspapers which are widely reported to be in dire straits.

And now it’s time for an unpleasant reality check. Taking all this into account, are media figures, including journalists, simply giving the people what they want?

I don’t feel at all like Lois Lane

Last night was my first (paid!) assignment as an actual, real reporter for, I can hardly believe it, the Chicago Tribune. No, I didn’t go to journalism school. No, this isn’t a full-time gig. No, I don’t have one of those tiny little tape recorders. I don’t even have a proper trenchcoat. Well, actually I’ve got an adorable one from Marc by Marc Jacobs, but it ceased to fit about 2 years ago and I can’t bring myself to give it away or toss it due to its cuteness and my hope that I’ll eventually lose weight and fit into it again. But I digress…

Back to my first foray into reporting. There I was at the Evanston City Council meeting furiously taking notes and feeling like I had a giant sign on my back that said “I DON’T BELONG HERE.” There were all these Medill students in the room, smartly dressed and with very serious looks on. I was not at all smartly dressed (the lack of trenchcoat was the least of it) and probably sported a look of fright and nervousness. 

Nevertheless, the first hurdle is cleared and tonight I’m off to the Wilmette Village Board meeting. Here’s hoping that it won’t also be infested with bright, young, fresh-scrubbed looking journalism students that make me feel inaquate. Of course, I’m reminded at this juncture of this Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It seems the onus is on me.

What Say You Now Social Marketers?

The Government-Media Complex (and the Marketing Department)

The thing that fascinated me about this story was not the fact that the Washington Post was set to nakedly peddle access and influence, but the fact that it took so long for something like this to come out publicly. Maybe I’m already a hardened cynic at 28, but I can’t imagine this being the first time that something like this has been conceived.

And then of course there’s the charming “blame it on Marketing” aspect that these stories always seem to have.  Reminds me of this local (Chicago) imbroglio. Gosh, these darn Marketing departments at these vaunted newspapers! They seem to have minds of their own.  

Democrisy is a poor substitute for the real thing