What is a journalist? News Literacy Series

What is a journalist? And what is journalism for? This collection of articles deals with the complexity these seemingly simple questions. Take a look through and tell us your opinions.

One woman recently asked me, “So what can you do as a journalist to activate change”? And I told her I don’t want to think about activating change. I don’t want to have the idea in my mind — even in the back recesses of my mind — that I’m doing great journalism that activates change. But a lot of journalists do — they believe that change is what they’re doing journalism for. I don’t. I think my job is like an educator. I’m about activating education and opening people’s minds to stories and what’s happening. I would be very worried if I were thinking I was activating change. What would that look like — like I’m here to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party? No, I’m here to tell you what is happening at a point in time and to try to do it fairly and in a balanced way. — David Barboza
The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.

Many answers here including:

When done right, journalism deepens our understanding of the world and educates us as people and citizens. It tells stories of the epic and the everyday in a way that cultivates empathy and galvanizes us to action.
— Chris Hughes is a co-founder of Facebook, and is editor in chief and publisher of The New Republic.
Journalism is to document and explain what’s going on in the world. The kind of journalism we do at our show also takes as its mission to entertain. On a weekly schedule, we don’t think you have to sacrifice the idealistic, mission-driven parts of the job in order to entertain.
Anyone who’s trying to get at the truth of a situation can be a journalist. It’s not fucking rocket science. Talk to people, write down or record what they say, use good judgment in picking quotes and evaluating the overall truth of what’s happening. Try to summarize it interestingly for others. A kid can do it.
— Ira Glass is the creator and host of This American Life.
There are a lot of different roles to play in the digital public sphere. A journalist might step into any or all of these roles. So might anyone else, as we are gradually figuring out.
BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday ordered news media run by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government to strictly follow the Party’s leadership and focus on “positive reporting.”
(Xi also) called Party- and government-run news outlets the “publicity fronts” of the party and the government. All news media run by the Party must work to speak for the Party’s will and its propositions and protect the Party’s authority and unity, Xi said.
They should enhance their awareness to align their ideology, political thinking and deeds to those of the CPC Central Committee and help fashion the Party’s theories and policies into conscious action by the general public while providing spiritual enrichment to the people, he said.