GUEST COLUMN: What is exactly the definition of a journalist in Canada?

I was interviewed on a Victoria radio station earlier this month about an issue now starting to wake up the journalistic community — professionalization

I was interviewed on a Victoria radio station earlier this month about an issue now starting to wake up the journalistic community — professionalization.

I was wearing one of my other hats, that of chair of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), an organization now taking a look at the idea.

Sparking this debate — and that is truly what it is in the media community —  is a plan by the Quebec government to create the title of professional journalist.

Under the Quebec plan, this designation would give those journalists special consideration  — information from government, for example. It’s a plan that has caused a massive uproar within the Quebec journalistic community, with various columnists opining this would put reporters under state control and other strange musings.

I’ve been in favour of professionalization for a long time, although it was a tough conversion.

My husband, who worked in the business for many years and now teaches it at Thompson Rivers University, started researching it and published papers on the idea. He’s in favour of it.

I wasn’t but, having seen how the industry has fractured in recent years, I eventually agreed with him.

Here’s why.

First, who is a journalist? Is it someone who blogs about happenings in the world? Is it someone who grabs a notebook and pen and heads off to some foreign land experiencing conflict, calling themselves a freelancer?

Is simply graduating with a journalism degree enough to be considered one or should there be something else?

As journalists, we seem to have some strange disconnect between how we view ourselves and how we want to be viewed. We want to think of ourselves as professionals, but we don’t want to behave as other professions do.

We are reluctant to establish — let alone enforce — a uniform code of ethics, for example.

We don’t require some ongoing educational upgrading in areas that continuously change, like the laws we deal with or the technology that has me now working on a computer, posting online and using social media.

(Yes, I started even before there were electric typewriters in newsrooms, when there was a handful of women in a predominantly male department of about 160 reporters and editors.)

One of the main reasons I’m in favour of it, though, is because I see it as a sure way we can do something we’re really lousy at — explaining to our consumers what we do, how we do it and,  most importantly, why we do it.

There’s a reason many people don’t trust my profession — we don’t tell them why they should.

We simply call people up, ask them questions and expect them to provide the answers.

We pass judgment on people without explaining why we should have that right.

We owe it to ourselves, too, so that in this world where anyone who knows how to blog can call themselves a reporter, there are some clear definitions out there to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

 

– Dale Bass is a reporter with Kamloops This Week.

Just Posted

B.C. to move salmon farms out of coastal migration route

Broughton Archipelago plan set to start in spring of 2019

City of Campbell River transit to get some infrastructure help next year

Hint: It’s a bus pullout on Dogwood at Carihi and doubling the rate of bus shelter installation

John Hart Generating Station officially fully operational

Still a few finishing touches, and more more work on the Campbell River system in the coming years

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Campbell River School District calls for report on buses and seat-belts

Parents have questions following expose on research around buses and safety

John Hart Generating Station officially fully operational

Still a few finishing touches, and more more work on the Campbell River system in the coming years

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Most Read