We're All Journalists Now by Scott Gant is a brief yet informative piece that explains the new era that the profession of journalism is entering. Gant begins his argument that we are in a new era of media by giving us an outline of what old-fashioned journalism looked like (think Dan Rather.) He points out that the profession of journalism only pertained to a select few who worked for large, institutional organizations. One conjures the image of the cigar-toting, tie-and-vest journalist who swilled whiskey on his lunch break and while sitting hunched over a typewriter. The new era of journalism has changed this notion of the Journalist, with more people now then ever actually attaining that elusive status through the Internet Age. Gant's main point in giving us the old versus new contrast is to illustrate that all journalists, not just the large, organizational ones, deserve to have access to "shield laws" and "privacy" traditionally awarded journalists. Gant believes that it's high time for the American judicial system to start recognizing that "journalism is in flux" and there are more and more average people ("citizen journalists") who deserve the right to protect their sources. Gant says of this: "Nonprofessional journalists are sure to occupy an increasingly prominent and significant role in American life," (p.135).
The book is a fairly decent read with what I think is a balanced look at the journalism industry. Gant gives a concise history of American journalism and delves into the numerous court cases where small-time journalists were forced to reveal their sources and notes while larger journalists were allowed to refuse to do so. As Gant points out, "We should be suspicious of efforts to allocate preferences that do not reflect the reality that we're all capable of being journalists now," (p. 134).
To his credit, Gant also outlines some of the difficulties with this new Internet age of Citizen Journalism. He mentions that some press settings, such as a government building, only allow a certain number of journalists to attend. So, how do we sift through the rising number of both professional and non-professional journalists to determine who gets a press pass? Who gets media credentials and who does not? Which journalist gets press preferences and press perks? Gant gives various criteria for this problem starting on page 132: "Preferences should be based on the activity in which a person is engaged, rather than who the person works for, whether the person is paid, or the views that are expressed."
While most experienced bloggers and the internet-savvy will have already thought of or read about or heard of the ideas that Gant presents in this book, it provides a good perspective on the status of journalism today. We're All Journalists Now gives many details on court cases pertaining to the transformation of journalism, as well as layman explanations of the results of those cases. I would recommend this book to current students who are majoring in Journalism, as well as folks like Dan Rather.
(HT: With thanks to Jessica Williams.)