Holly Hubbard Preston is a journalist. Increasingly that profession sparks more skepticism than respect, as the distinction between Edward R. Murrow and Gawker is blurred.
I was lunching with relatives when a friend of theirs walked up. As introductions were made and the gentleman learned I was a journalist, his tone changed. Leveling his gaze he said, “So you’re one of them.”
It was the third time in a year I’ve been called out for being a journalist. Each time it happens it leaves me speechless: I expect this when I travel to places where a free press is not valued, but not at home.
I know there are hack journalists out there, but they are the exception. The reporters I know have degrees in journalism. Like me, they took classes in law and ethics as well as news writing and reporting—where the evils of editorial sensationalism and misinformation were hammered home regularly.
The digital age has not been kind to traditional journalism or its legitimacy. Nowadays anyone with a computer can self-identify as a journalist. Meanwhile, online media organizations spring up overnight, making it ever harder to separate legitimate news gatherers from activists and propagandists.