Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Writer is a Writer is a Writer...

Are bloggers journalists?

Are freelance writers journalists?

Hm. Seems not. According to our Government. This all came about with discussion of protection of sources (journalists are protected but bloggers aren't) but it's gone a bit deeper, in my book.

Here are the details according to a recent WebProNews article and one from the Citizen Media Law Project.

The Senate and House generally agree by saying a journalist is someone who is involved in:

the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.

The House adds:

for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.

That's the part that bothers me.

Come on. Fiction writers have been fighting some of this for years. How many novel writers can make a full time living writing? Not a lot. A handful when you look at all the published fiction out there. Those of us who are published with small and electronic presses are constantly reminded by some of our professional organizations, that we don't count. Same goes for non-fiction freelancers, bloggers or "journalists." We don't make enough money so therefore, we cannot be serious about this business, can we? Shame on them. I'm as serious as a heart attack.

Now, Congress is getting into the act? Frightening.

So many of us start part-time and work our way up for many years to support ourselves full-time with our writing. I'm not quite there yet. Still, I feel no less a novelist, or a non-fiction writer, or a freelancer, because that is what, and who, I am. It's not defined by financial gain.

I'm also a blogger. Go figure.

Am I a journalist? Heck, I don't know. I do know one thing:

I'm a WRITER. Even my accountant says so...and so does the IRS.

Heaven help me if I write an sensitive article for a magazine and I have to use a source!

The trouble starts, when those who have no idea of how writing works in real life, try to define what something "is."

Hm. Maybe the feds need SMEs? (subject matter experts)

What do you think?
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