There is a court case that I’m involved enough with that I need to be silent on the details (until this Thursday when it should be settled) but curious enough about to examine its crux. Is it journalism if you don’t cover the story?
Union County government gets covered only by www.countywatchers.com and one local paper exclusively. On those rare occasions when county government is reported on by other media outlets it’s basically either reprints of county press releases or piggy-backing on the coverage from these two sources. As regards Union County government the state’s largest newspaper certainly does not practice journalism by anyone’s definition.
The argument in the Renna case (this link gives you all the backup on the filings) is that Tina Renna is a mere blogger and not a journalist* entitled to protections against having to reveal sources. The defendants’ brief supporting this position cites the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (SBJ) which begins:
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.
I agree with much of how they define journalism and its mission but one thing keeps gnawing. With the most important matters effecting our lives (massive public and private debt, pension crises, government corruption through legalized bribery) being superficially covered, if at all, what good does journalism do us if it’s not practiced in these areas? What good to anyone is fair and comprehensive reporting on Jersey Shore?
Notwithstanding that one particular detractor considered her journalist enough to sue for defamation.