Mar 172012

On  the revelation his expose of Apple’s employment practice contains “significant fabrications”, Mike Daisy reached for the  “I am not a journalist and “my work is entertainment” excuses.

This gutless and disingenuous defence is a common one used by those caught distorting facts or outright lying to advance their causes and enrich themselves.

Perhaps the Mike Daisy expose, along with the sad events around the Stop Kony campaign, should make us consider who is a journalist and what journalism is.

Is journalism reporting the facts as we seem them or describing the world around us? If so, does a “journalist” have to work for an established and recognised media outlet?

The modern idea of warrior, professional journalism was born in the 1930s with celebrity journalists like Ernest Hemingway or Evelyn Waugh reporting from Spain or Ethiopia.

In the 1960s we saw this idea become established through the Vietnam war and reached its peak in the early 1970s with the Watergate scandal.

Today, someone who is an actor by trade can be appointed as the technology correspondent by a newspaper and automatically become a credible journalist in their field.

At the same time someone with years of experience in their field — it could be food, travel, technology or anything else — is sneeringly derided as a “citizen journalist” by those who draw a cheque from the established, and dying, media should they decide to self publish.

The sad thing is much of what is published as “journalism” by the established media outlets is entertainment and many of the “facts” reported are self interested propaganda promoting the latest music star or pushing a political agenda.

All too often, those claiming to be credible journalists are being used to give the illusion of of credibility on things that simply aren’t true at all.

We need to re-evaluate what journalism is and how misleading and self-interested reporting distorts debate, markets and the democratic process.

A start would be in ditching the “journalism as entertainment” meme.

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