Defining “Journalist”

by John J. Miller on September 19, 2013

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

What’s a journalist? That’s the subject of my story in today’s Detroit News. Lawmakers in Lansing are trying to write a definition into law–and that’s a really bad idea.

The bill says that journalists are employees of a radio or television station or a newspaper, which, it adds, is “published at least once a week, includes stories of general interest to the public, is used primarily for the dissemination of news, and may be published in hard copy form or on the Internet.”

That’s not good enough.

For 15 years, I’ve been on the staff of National Review, founded by the late William F. Buckley Jr. I’ve interviewed the president in the Oval Office, plus scores of governors, senators and congressmen. I have a request under the Freedom of Information Act pending right now, for a story I hope to write in the months ahead.

Although I’ve never asked to look at vehicle accident reports, I can imagine wanting to do so for the purpose of reporting on public figures.

But National Review is a fortnightly — it comes out every other week, not “at least once a week.” So apparently I’m not a journalist.


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