These days, anybody with an internet connection can be a publisher.
That doesn’t make everybody a journalist.
This distinction has become more important than ever in light of two recent events.
One was the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The other was a proposal by lawmakers from Georgia, the Peach State, that looked more like an export from the Georgia that was part of the Soviet Union: a so-called “ethics in journalism” act that would have imposed onerous new requirements and potential civil penalties on reporters.
As soon as news broke of Assange’s potential extradition to the United States for trial on charges of conspiracy, his allies began campaigning to make him a Fourth Estate martyr.
“Every journalist in the world” should be speaking out on Assange’s behalf, said Intercept editor Glenn Greenwald. Another fugitive leaker of U.S. government secrets, Edward Snowden, tweeted that Assange’s arrest represents “a dark day for press freedom.”
As two journalism professors who practiced the craft for many years before becoming teachers of it, we know firsthand how powerfully reporters are drawn to unpopular causes. It’s an admirable reflex that often makes for great journalism and a better society.
But granting Assange journalist status is beyond problematic: It’s likely to draw more attacks on press freedom such as the Georgia lawmakers’ thinly disguised attempt to sanction and ostracize journalists whose work they don’t like.
Source: Journalism’s Assange problem : The Conversation