I respect the hell out of James Wolcott and the dozens of other journalists and writers who are protesting Jeff Gannon’s appearance at an upcoming National Press Club forum. Gannon, also known as Jeff Guckert, is the conservative stooge and former male escort who got a White House press pass to “report” for his Talon News web site – and as such, deserves to enter the National Press Club as much as Hannity & Colmes combined.
Nevertheless, the protest is misguided. The real protest should be against the title of the event, “Who is a Journalist?” The question is irrelevant because we already know the answer.
Anyone can be a journalist, and it has nothing to do with blogs or the web or 24 hour cable news. It has to do with the Constitution. Thomas Paine didn’t need a press pass to spread a little Common Sense, and neither does DailyKos or anyone else.
The real question we should be asking is “What is Journalism?” And if journalism is a search for the truth, then how does technology help or hinder the quest?
Journalism is being redefined. The “who” doesn’t concern me as much as the “how” – I could care less who is doing the reporting, I only care about the quality of the news being reported.
I don’t abhor Geraldo because of who he is; I abhor him because he isn’t any good. What he does isn’t journalism, in my opinion. But I do I respect the fact that Geraldo has every right to call himself a journalist and be a complete moron. More power to him.
Geraldo is a journalist. Jeff Gannon is a journalist. So is Kos, Wonkette, and my next-door-neighbor with the bad hip and overweight terrier.
Perhaps the National Press Club chose the “Who is a Journalist” title for another reason: It’s an easier question to answer. It’s a question that by its very structure is built to divide.
Asking “What is Journalism,” however, requires the National Press Club’s members to examine themselves – to ask questions they would rather not address. Now that would be an event worth the price of admission.