Via National Post:
Quebec’s Culture Minister, Christine St.-Pierre, has floated the creation of “a new model of regulation of Quebec media.” At the heart of the project is legislation that would define the “status of professional journalists.” The stated intention is to distinguish those dedicated to “serving the public interest” from “amateur bloggers.” Those admitted to the rank of professional journalist would enjoy unspecified “advantages or privileges,” such as “better access to government sources.”
This project strikes us as alarming on many levels. Even though journalism schools exist, journalism itself is an unregulated profession, unlike, say, dentistry or law. And that is a good thing. The basic rules of reportage can be taught, but the ability to rapidly synthesize disparate pieces of information into an intelligible, easily digested whole is the fruit of individual talent, curiosity, insight and ambition coupled with on-the-job apprenticeship.
Not a single member of the National Post’s editorial board went to journalism school; we suspect the same is true of many major newspaper editorial boards in the country. Nor do we have any sort of government accreditation, because, thankfully, none is necessary. We migrated into writing because we were drawn to the craft - not by passing some test or official designation supplied by a trade group or agency.
And whatever Ms. St. Pierre may think, blogging is not a disreputable occupation: Many professional journalists today get into the highly competitive market by self-publishing on the Internet in one way or another. Amateur bloggers - “citizen journalists” - should be encouraged, not chilled.
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