The CBC's Neil Macdonald looks back on the pissing contest between Alberta premier Rachel Notley and bottom-feeder Ezra Levant to explore what it doesn't mean to be called a "journalist."
Journalists entertain all sorts of self-aggrandizing notions about what we do.
The big one is that we are a profession, which we pretty clearly are not. We don't even really qualify as a trade.
Professions generally have minimum qualifications. You need a degree in accounting to be an accountant, for example.
And a tradesman, like a mechanic, or a furnace installer, requires a licence — something to prove you can actually do the job.
Not a journalist. Journalists don't even have to finish high school.
...Professions also tend to regulate themselves.
If lawyers or doctors or pharmacists breach the clear ethical rules governing them, they can be formally charged and punished by their peers.
The car mechanic or furnace installer can lose his licence.
But regulating journalism? Out of the question, for the sake of democracy itself, my peers would argue.
There are no national journalistic standards, and no way to enforce them if they existed.
Journalists can root through people's garbage, mislead interview subjects to gain their confidence, appoint themselves arbiters of people's privacy, and decide whose story is worth public consideration, and whose isn't — the only people we answer to are our bosses.
Macdonald nails it. Journalism is no profession. It never was. At best it's a trade of sorts as readily adept at misleading as informing the public. While there are journalists of integrity, that virtue is not inherent in journalism at large. I did it because it seemed to be a way to earn a modest but satisfactory income without ever working particularly hard. Some things, I suspect, don't change.