Going briefly backwards in time, en route to Qatar I spoke to the 20th anniversary conference of the European Journalism Training Association in Paris. The talk – “How do we teach journalism if we can’t define it?” – reprised the drift of the lecture to be found here and there is some Q&A material here. (It’s not clear if the video of the talk itself is on the site; maybe you have to be an EJTA member).
The lively discussion which followed was an object lesson in the risks of strpping down an argument to a shorter version. If you find this blog or others a little egocentric in their wish to always have the last word, then have a look as an antidote at the early #ejta tweets from Guy Berger of Rhodes University.
For the record, I really hope I am not imprisoned in a siege mentality about journalists and journalism as they presently are. There are occasional attempts to defend journalism against the forces of change by saying that “we are journalism and what we do is grand and important and we should be protected from change” or by claiming that citizen or grassroots journalists have nothing to contribute. These arguments cannot succeed and will fail.
When I’m on my feet nowadays I try to look beyond the huge changes that technology and economics and to ask if there is a definable activity which can be called journalism and, if so, what should define the value that it adds. The very last thing on my mind is to erect a trade-union-style defence or self-justificationfor journalists who don’t like the way the world is going.
Am I starting to sound a little defensive about a little criticism? I think I am so I’ll stop there.