What is journalism?

Use the comments.


  1. A preliminary thought: journalism is a process in which an individual or group synthesizes information gathered through research and reporting into a form of effective communication for a specific or general audience.

    The important elements here are: (1) journalism as a process, not a product; (2) journalism depends on research and reporting, so one's opinions alone are not journalism; (3) journalism synthesizes information from many different sources; (4) journalism can take many forms (mediums) but always strives to communicate effectively; (5) journalism targets a general audience or a specified audience, but always attempt to communicate with someone - not just a vacuum.

  2. UPDATE: Steve Silberman, a longtime writer for Wired and other national magazines, answered the question via Twitter.

    The whole exchange:

    @stevesilberman: Journalistic skill is the ability to synthesize and explain information in a way that is clarifying and compelling to others. (link)

    @stevesilberman: Scientific expertise, for example, requires drilling down. Good science writers can both drill down & give the broad overview. (link)

    @ferrisjabr: I agree w/ your def of journ. But then what differentiates that from teacher, author, etc? Or diff. not necessary? (link)

    @stevesilberman: Not so different, but journalists must be timely in a way that teachers and authors aren't. That requires its own skill set. (link)

    @mike_orcutt: I agree on both points, and I'd like people not to forget how difficult, and indispensable, those skills are. (link)

    @stevesilberman: Agree. There's a disturbing amount of unexamined anti-writer anti-journalist sentiment afoot, even among otherwise smart folks. (link)