What is a journalist?

I've been writing on the issue of the changes in the journalism profession and have tried to apply some definition regarding what a professional journalist is.  After looking at a lot of the discussion regarding blogging and social media, I think it might be helpful to define what a journalist is, regardless of profession. 

Here are a few definitions.

A journalist (also called a newspaperman) is a person who practises journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journalist

A reporter. A person who makes a living reporting on news and current events; One whose occupation or profession is journalism en.wiktionary.org/wiki/journalist

Someone who works in the news gathering business, such as a photographer, editor or reporter. edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/EDTEC670/Cardboard/board/p/pulitzer/pulitzer5.html

Someone who writes news reports for newspapers, radio, TV etc. Also know as a correspondent or reporter www.headsup.org.uk/content/default.asp

The definition is pretty clear to me.  It's someone who regularly writes or talks over a medium publicly about current events.  Whether someone does this over social media or traditional media is irrelevant.  So asking what the difference is between a journalist and a blogger is like asking what the difference is between a Washington Delicious and a Pippin. They are both apples.

The questions that need to be asked are: Where does your audience prefer to get information from; what medium to they primarily use to gather information and what media organization do they primarily trust

I had coffee with Paul Miller of TechInsights a few weeks ago on a variety of topics and a state ment he made at an industry organization over a year ago came up.  The context was that a favored journalist of this industry had been let go.  He said that their data showed that the 90 percent of the readers really didn't care who reported the information and didn't even know who this journalist was.  That cause quite a furor at the meeting.  Paul was called many names and his intelligence questioned.

Funny thing is: a few months ago, a CEO from that industry approached Paul at another event and apologized.  The CEO said they ran their own name recognition survey on the journalist in question and 95 percent of their customers couldn't recognize the name of the journalist.

Information is information.  Some people trust certain media and distrust others.  The goal of any journalist in any medium is to engender trust of whatever audience they report to, no matter the size or interest.  But to make sure that happens, the medium has to be funded somehow.  Either the journalist funds it personally and finds income elsewhere or someone pays the journalist to do that work.  

And that brings us to another two questions that must asked:

What is the audience willing to pay for to get that information and perspective and/or who is willing to pay to have that information and perspective disseminated?

Let's stop wasting time trying to figure out whether a blogger is a journalist.  Let's try and figure out how we are going to restore a vibrant press to our society.