July 3, 2008
What is a journalist. According to Wikipedia, “journalists gather information and broadcast it so we remain informed….” If you take this part of the definition James Kotecki is most definitely a journalist. He found information and shared it with the public. Yes, he did it on Youtube instead of on the airwaves but does that make it less notable? It seems that more people are using Youtube than are watching TV on a daily basis.
I guess where the sticky part comes in is the fact that he wasn’t being employed, when he first started out, by a major news organization. Does this make someone less legitimate? Is it the fact that he voiced his opinion that makes people wonder if he’s a journalist? If this is the case than not only Chris Matthews of Hardball but also Keith Olbermann of Countdown are both hacks. They tend to give thier own opinions. This has made both of them very popular in their own right. They also give facts to their viewers. The interpretation of those facts is where things get sticky.
As Jay Rosen discussed at PDF2008 there is a rise in “semi-pro” journalism. Since everyone has the right of free press in the US we can all express our views and interpretations of the news. Christopher Schroeder discusses this concept in We The Media. We are all “citizen journalists” with something to say. Sometimes bloggers might even shape the “traditional media.” One such case is when Trent Lott made some comments that had a ring of segregation to them during Strom Thurmonds birthday bash. It seemed to slip through the cracks until bloggers took up the call and forced it into the mainstream.
If the argument is that James presents his stories with humor so they’re not journalism, that doesn’t fly either. In that case again Olbermann is not a journalist, since he has a dark sense of humor during his show. Jeanne Moos of CNN would also be stripped of her title as a journalist since she also presents her stories with a bit a wry humor.
If Fox News can do this and call themselves journalists the definition is pretty broad..
Or how about referring to Obama’s wife as his “baby mama?”
So, do I think James Kotecki was a journalist before joining the ranks of Politico? The answer is yes. He had presidential candidates visit his dorm room and he interviewed those candidates that weren’t getting equal airtime in the mainstream media. He presented information that we the public wouldn’t have had if he hadn’t reported on it.