Editor & Publisher to Journalists: Get over Your Big Egos

-By Warner Todd Huston

As I have in the past, to be a fair and honest reporter, I’ll bring the good news about the MSM to the fore right along with the bad. Today I have some good in the form of a piece in Editor & Publisher’s Shop talk section titled Who’s a Journalist These Days? This is an interesting piece that takes journalists to task who share, as E&P puts it, the “big ego disease” that seems woefully prevalent throughout the MSM.

In fact, Mark A. Phillips doesn’t at all mince words when taking to task his fellow journalists, not sparing their feelings a bit. He even identifies by name one of the journalistic comrades of whom he is scolding. That being one Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle.

In a recent article on the Josh Wolf affair, Saunders raised the question of the legitimacy of Wolf’s claims of being a journalist. Wolf, is a blogger who has been jailed since last year for refusing to reveal to investigators a news source he used on his Blog.

Saunders described Wolf variously as “…a blogger with an agenda and a camera”, and a man who likes to “…put himself in the company of real journalists”. Saunders’ final analysis negates Wolf’s claims of being a journalist. “But a camera and a Web site do not a journalist make, any more than shooting a criminal makes a vigilante a cop”, she haughtily proclaimed.

Quite rightly, Phillips takes Saunders to task for her elitist claims that she has the right to define who is a “real journalist”.

My suggestion for Saunders and others who believe they know who “real journalists” are: Get over it.

…The reality is that defining a journalist by the very narrow scope Saunders chooses to use is a symptom of the greater illness that plagues many, what I call “traditional” journalists. It’s called Big Ego.

Ouch! Right to the bone, that.

Phillips goes on to offer internet and citizen journalists the legitimacy of a “real journalist.”

Big Ego comes in many forms, but the most common symptom is the belief that journalists are really important people. Journalists with this disease often point at bloggers and other people without press passes and accuse them of not being “real journalists”. But bloggers who provide analysis about newsworthy events are journalists.

Phillips hits squarely on the head the reason why sites such as Drudge, Townhall.com, Newsmax, Newsbusters, and others have gained such loyal fans.

Why, after all, do you think avenues like blogs and alternative news sites on the Web have flourished? Because people don’t think their voice is being heard through the traditional media.

Finally, Phillips gives his fellow journalists some new rules for the 21st century:

There are some new rules in the 21st century and abiding by them will not only help traditional journalists do their jobs better, but perhaps make them think in new ways and hopefully, keep the dreaded Big Ego disease at bay:

— Bloggers, especially those who comment on newsworthy and current affairs, are journalists. It’s a legitimate form of journalism. That’s why newspapers across the country have adopted blogs on their own sites. Many newspapers utilize blogs as a way to update readers on news throughout the day, before updated stories appear in print.

— You no longer need a “press pass” to be a journalist.

— Someone with a camera phone in the right place at the right time who is witness to an incredible event can do the work of a journalist. But it’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s something news organizations must continue to tap into.

— Traditional journalists don’t get to decide who’s a “real journalist” anymore.

Cogent remarks, Mr. Phillips. It is obvious the man has seen the future and it is us!

Of course, it is easier for Mr. Phillips to be seen in the MSM scolding his own than it might, at fist, appear. His target for scorn, Debra J. Saunders, is, after all, a conservative writer. Let’s see how brave Phillips is to identify by name a liberal columnist should the situation ever arise?

Anyway, while Phillips’ bravery takes a dent or two in the relative safety of his victim of attack — seeing as how he won’t take any guff from his liberal pals over attacking a conservative columnist — he should still be commended for sticking up for us lowly Bloggers.

Certainly we scare the MSM. We are all just wild-eyed, crazies in our PJs, slamming out our hackneyed thoughts on a computer keyboard as the lone light bulb in our Parent’s basements swings overhead… right?

It makes me wonder if “real journalists” scare their little children asleep with morbid tales of “bloggers” coming to eat them if they don’t go to sleep like good little children? I’d believe that tale if “real journalists” had families in the first place and weren’t as anti-family as they universally seem to be!

So, kudos to Mark A. Phillips for his stand in solidarity with the Newsbusters staff!! Welcome, brother.

…What? Coming, Mom. Yes, I took the garbage out. No, I’m not talking to anyone down here…

I’ve received an email from writer Mark Phillips and he would like it known he was not familiar with SFChron. writer Debra J. Saunders before he found her “real journalist” piece and did not know her work or political leanings.

I really didn’t mean to say he did, but only that he would expect less guff from other journalists for attacking a conservative than he would by attacking a left leaning writer.
Warner Todd Huston’s thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, townhall.com, men’snewsdaily.com and americandaily.com among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a guest on several radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

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