Richard Ackland has a column in today's Sydney Morning Herald in which he asks, as more information is sought online, where this leaves journalism and the cosy codes that govern the conduct of journalists? In other words who is a journalist in an online world of bloggers and others in which news people make the "awful discovery" that any number of readers know infinitely more about the topic being reported than the journalist who delivers the goods?The issue was also canvassed here recently in the context of Freedom of Information charge concessions that the Federal Government proposes, which would involve each government agency determining on reasonable belief that the applicant is a journalist. I've suggested that any test should be based on functions- the gathering and analysis of information for dissemination or possible dissemination, or in order to promote scrutiny, discussion, comment or review of Government activities - not someone's right to or credentials for a label, should be the determining factor. That is of course if journalists of any stripe deserve the proposed better treatment than John and Mary Citizen who might be out there pursuing the object of the FOI Act by seeking to scrutinise government activity.
But if the proposals go ahead, and being able to prove you are a journalist becomes important, applicants should invest in the CD Ackland says promises to teach journalism by a ''subliminal technique'', and wave proof of purchase in front of any government agency that queries their status.