Last week I had a conversation with an editor of a fashion street mag where she referred to herself as a journalist.
Now I made an assumption that from her background in fashion she was not a journalist, but then did she make an assumption that because she publishes a street magazine she is?
Regardless, it made me wonder whether we have dumbed down journalism so much, it is a qualification anyone can claim.
Of course we’re well aware we no longer carry the same respect in the community we once did. Even lawyers are now deemed more respectable than us. And sadly, this distrust began well before the antics of News of the World were revealed. In fact they just confirmed what a lot of our audience already knew.
Over the summer I have been catching up on the journalist’s union magazine The Walkley Magazine. The running theme throughout most of last year’s editions was ‘quality journalism’. Where is it? And how do we get it?
Well it needs to exist in order for us to know what it is.
As a profession we romantically cry out for the glory days where journalists were held in high esteem. However we really need to wake up and realize that maybe there is no longer a demand for the type of journalism so many of us are striving for.
Just this week Channel 10 announced moving The Project to the 6pm timeslot to compete with the commercial news services. Where this program sits in their schedule has been an ongoing experiment over recent months, however its popularity clearly shows that audiences have a hunger for opinion over news.
Even well respected journalists are turning away from reporting the news, instead opting for the job of columnist where they can just comment on it. With only anecdotal evidence to go by it seems the growing trend for opinionated pieces has paralleled the online trend of blogging.
Scarily, this has also taken over influencing public debate rather than presenting the facts and letting our audiences decide. Something we have seen turn the debate on crucial issues like climate change and asylum seekers in to a farce.
However being a realist I know that quality journalism will only come about if there is an audience that demands it. And we as journalists can only provide it if we demand it of ourselves, and our colleagues.
For myself, who enjoys feature writing who also carries a blog full of opinion, this does start to feel a bit like ‘pot, kettle, black’. However I would like to join my colleagues cry for quality journalism. Or at least the type of journalism that makes us think and not be there for a bit of escapism – that’s what fiction is for.