Who is a journalist and why does it matter? Disentangling the legal and ethical arguments

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 22 (4):241 – 261 (2007)
The contemporary debate about "who is a journalist" is occurring in two distinct domains: law and professional ethics. Although the debate in these domains is focused on separate problems, participants treat the central question as essentially the same. This article suggests that the debates in law and professional ethics have to be resolved independently and that debate within those domains needs to be more nuanced. In law, it must vary depending on whether the context involves constitutional law, statutory law, or the distribution of informal privileges by government officials. In professional ethics, the debate should not be oriented around a single definitional threshold but should identify tiers that take account of different communicators' unique goals, tactics, and values.
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