What I’m about to say won’t be on the nightly news. It won’t run in The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal either. You won’t hear about it on CNN and pundits will not sit at a round table and mindlessly bicker about it for hours at a time. It won’t spur book deals, or talk shows, publicity stunts or failed presidential runs.
But it will be media. When this is published, someone will (hopefully) read it. Ideally, many people will read it. Occasionally, people throw around a certain word to describe people who do this sort of thing. It begins with a “j” and throughout history has restricted a vast majority of the population from writing and expressing their points of view.
What is this word? Not Justin Bieber or Joe Paterno, despite what the media might have led you to believe. No, it is journalist. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a journalist as a writer who “aims at a mass audience.” Simple enough, it seems.
But take a step back and think about it for a second. Except for the notes we used to pass to each other in class or the angst-filled journals many kept in middle school, much of what we write is designed to be read by a mass audience. The problem here lies with what people perceive as a “mass audience.” In my book, I am writing this for a mass audience. No, this will never be nationally syndicated. The USA Today, with a daily syndication of over 2.5 million readers, will never carry this. But I’m okay with that. Even if only two people read this, it will be a mass audience. And do you know who writes for a mass audience?
Trick question, the answer yet again is journalists. In case you haven’t noticed, I am really not a fan of the word all that much. Traditionally, people would wait until the nightly news or the next day’s newspaper to find out the news of the day, many hours or even days after it occurred. This outdated, not-so-new “news” was written by journalists, essentially the only ones allowed to report the goings-on of the day.
What does journalism, being cool and pumping your own gas have in common? Unless you’re in New Jersey, everyone can do it. When one thinks of a journalist, images of Walter Cronkite or Dan Rather may come to mind, not a college student telling the world about his or her day in 140 characters or less. But that does not make it any less legitimate.
Today, the entire world is only a mouse click and a few keystrokes away. In theory, the entire world could see what any one person writes if it is posted on the Internet. Even if every television owner in America turned on the “CBS Evening News” with Walter Cronkite when he came on the air in 1962, that would only be roughly 49 million households. That may seem like a high number, but if you consider that are over 164 million computers being used in America alone, then it pales in comparison.
In the traditional sense of the word, since I am writing for a mass audience, I am a journalist. But for the friends posting about the newest events or aimless ramblings, or the people filling up my Twitter feed with information, you are journalists too. Congratulations. Go spread the word.