Seated on a stool, propped up at the perfect height behind an ironing board, which was used as her pretend news desk, the young girl cleared her throat and spoke into her hand-held microphone, “We are on in three, two, one. Live from K-L Studios this is Katie reporting today’s latest news.”
You guessed it. That young girl was me – imitating my favorite newscaster, repeating what I heard or creating my own version of what was happening in the world. Those carefree hours, spent in what my mom would call “unceasing chatter,” eventually led me to where I am today.
After getting into the journalism school at the University of Wisconsin, I interned on the assignment desk at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis and later as a reporter intern at NBC 15 in Madison, where I wrote stories for nightly newscasts. I quickly learned that the broadcast world wasn’t for me. I had seen enough community fundraisers, rummage sales and car accidents. I also didn’t want to start my career in Podunk, USA and spend years waiting for a big break. That’s what eventually convinced me to jump the fence and pursue a career in public relations. After five years in the field, I’m confident to say I made the right choice.
In last week’s class, I learned that being a certified journalist is no easy endeavor. In order to be considered a “journalist,” a person must:
- Earn more than half of their income through journalistic enterprises
- Be independent, non-partisan and not lobby Congress
- Be supported by advertising or subscriptions
- Have published work dating back more than 18 months
In light of this definition, never let anyone tell you that a blogger is a journalist. Bloggers after all, are bloggers, unless they meet the requirements outlined above. If they don’t, they are simply just another man on the street about to be targeted for an interview by a local news crew.
The same goes for Wikipedia. There is no way for an encyclopedia junkie to have more facts about a story than an on-the-ground news team. While Wikipedia can be a great aggregate of reported information, I think it’s more valuable after the fact as a research tool. I’d never think to log on to Wikipedia for breaking news. That’s what CNN and all the other news outlets are for. Perhaps that’s just the news junkie in me.