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Things That Aren’t Journalism

The words “news”, “journalism”, “journalist”, “reporting” should have stricter definitions. I’m painting the below in broad strokes. Obviously, there are exceptions and special circumstances and mitigating context. But also obviously, a lot of media sources clearly and unambiguously fall into these non-journalism buckets. A lot of media isn’t journalism, and that’s fine. Nobody expects an entertainment publication like Popular Mechanics to publish an article claiming that some new technology is boring and unlikely to amount to much. That’s fine as that publication is not meant to be journalism, it’s understood to be fun. Great! The grief is that so many publications are erroneously claiming to be “journalism” when they most clearly are not at all.

  • A publication that quotes unnamed sources is gossip, not journalism.
  • A publication that doesn’t publish retractions when they’re wrong, timely and prominently, is propaganda, not journalism.
  • A publication that doesn’t publish at least two opposing viewpoints, side by side, on each important topic, is entertainment, not journalism.
  • A publication that routinely hires and promotes a large proportion of ex-members of a particular government, business, or sector of the economy, is a mouthpiece, not journalism.

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