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Monday, August 20, 2012

Who's Really a Journalist Anymore?

It's a touchy subject. In today's world of instant communication, who, precisely, is really a journalist anymore? Twitter, Skype, cellphone cameras, e-mail, blogs, you name it, are all perfectly suited for anyone wishing to record an event, report, opine and disseminate stuff worldwide in an instant. So who needs a professional journalism training program? Maybe that's one big reason for the demise of the College of San Mateo's set of journalism courses (plagued by low enrollment), along with the abrupt retirement of their instructor, this month. But there's a flaw in that logic. Any writer, photographer, film-maker, reporter, page-designer and the like needs an editor, an experienced man or woman to monitor and shepherd ideas and raw material to a polished conclusion that's appropriate for public consumption. Good editors are like gold. They are indispensable. It's their job to make authors and journalists better, to guide and protect them in their work. Typically, they do so in grand and relatively thankless obscurity. With cutbacks savaging the editing ranks at newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, websites and associated endeavors, it's getting increasingly hard to make the case for this important craft. The bean-counters simply don't see much value in it. And that's truly a sad state of affairs. In the process, quality work is becoming a rare commodity indeed.   

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