This chat between Mike Arrington and Jeff Jarvis is interesting (entertaining?) for a few reasons, but the thing that struck me the most is when Jeff asks Mike early on whether he considers himself a journalist. He comes back to it at the end of the talk as well.
Mike of course replies no, he’s not a journalist and when Jeff presses him on why not, he gives what seems like a satisfactory answer. He says that journalists are “priests” and that he’s not interested in being part of that. He has a valid point, but so does Jeff when he asks Mike:
“Why not take it over? Why not say that you’re a new kind of journalist?”
Mike maintains that he doesn’t need to do that. Hey, it’s up to him. But to the rest of you I say: PLEASE come into journalism and take it over.
Please come into journalism from non-journalistic backgrounds.
Please come into journalism with radical ideas on how to transform and improve the industry.
Please come into journalism with an open desire to advocate, if you have one.
Please come into journalism from blogging. No matter what anyone tells you, they are not two separate activities.
Please come into journalism with a burning need to be radically transparent. You should want to tell your audience nearly everything.
Please come into journalism understanding that you are not giving a sermon, but rather hosting a party where everyone can discuss their views.
Please come into journalism with the knowledge that your audience, while they may not choose to practice journalism themselves, often know more than you.
Please come into journalism with an understanding of the business side of things and have no discomfort talking about money.
Please come into journalism knowing full well that the value of being authentic, responsive and engaging will benefit you even more than it benefits your audience.
Please come into journalism with no preconceptions.
Please come into journalism expecting to work hard and be judged on the merit of your work which you will expect to be judged not with prizes, but with expanding readership, bringing to light an important issue, creating a community, making more money for your news org, etc.
Please come into journalism with the notion that this is a public service and thus not necessarily a means of securing a house, a car and a European vacation.
Please come into journalism with a commitment to draw back the curtain on your work and show your audience how you go about it. I promise they will respect you more, not less.
Please come into journalism and take it over. Mike Arrington doesn’t want to and that’s fine. But you can make a different decision. The industry desperately needs it and it needs you.