[O]pinions can be interchanged, and the people thus become one mass, breathing one breath and one spirit, their might increases . . . “New Monthly Magazine,” London 1831
Journalism is that medium by which opinions are shared and peoples are unified. Literally, journalism is a record of events. In the14th Century, “journalism” was first the term for a “book of church services” (Douglas Harper, journalist and etymology database compiler). From there the word developed in both French and English to mean “a day” (jour) and a book for keeping personal accounts (journal) or a profession/genre in which news or other topics are reported in several mediums (journalism).
As the word “journalism” has been defined by general usage throughout the centuries, it has arrived at the present day with much baggage and connotation. The general use of journalism, according to the Corpus of Historical American English (COHA), has not only peaked during the past decade, but it has also been primarily used to refer to the profession or genre of delivering news to the public–creating one mass through the sharing of ideas. Although journalism in the 21st Century does not often refer to the personal records kept in journals or the accounts written but not shared with the public, it is a quintessential part of the whole meaning of journalism itself.
In the Time magazine in 2000, famed cartoonist Joe Sacco stated, “Maybe I’m a B journalist . . . but I’m a really good cartoonist who does journalism.” Sacco brings up the most personal and most diverse part of journalism: journalism can be any method of recording. Sacco, a cartoonist, an artist, depicted what he saw and what he heard through art. In this way, he recorded, he (dare I turn journal into a verb?) journaled current events using his talents as a vehicle. This is the heart of journalism: the mere act of recording in any way one pleases. Writing, broadcasting, art, legacies, records, collections, personal momentos, and I would even classify the character of a person as a record because the way a person lives (and the way others see a person) is a record of his or her beliefs as well as the influence he or she had. It’s journalism as up close and personal as anyone can get.
In this sense, all people are journalists whether they know it or not and more importantly whether they like it or not. Negative connotations that journalists (in the professional sense) and journalism carry are gross oversights of the vast, living, and personal applications of journalism. Ignorance never makes for a good report.
In its basest sense, journalism is record taking and journalists include every person and every thing. In a more refined sense, journalism is the conscientious act of recording for the sake of sharing with others opinions, perspectives, and events oftentimes for the sake of creating unity in a community. Comm – together. Unity – one. Together in one. Community. Journalism helps to make communities. As the platitude goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Through the sharing of ideas and the intertwining of people’s lives, the individual and the community are both generously empowered with more might. Another cliche here evinces itself: knowledge is power. The more one knows the more powerful one is in mind and in action. The more a community knows, the more powerful it is in mind and in action. Journalists, therefore, can add strength to the masses.
Journalism, by sheer nature, invites different opinions and also a clash of opinions. But this does not weaken the power journalism has on a community or an individual. In fact, it is this invitation which strengthens on an individual and a communal basis because it invites people to think–think for themselves, think in groups, and think about their own opinions and beliefs. That is why no one should ever greet the world with silence. There is no room for people who do not care to live with some interest in others. A silent life is a sign of a silent mind. A silent mind is a terrible waste of potential.
Journalism is a celebration of thinking. It is a record keeping. It is an opinion-sharing medium. Journalists sharing opinions. They are keeping records. They are those who celebrate thinking. I hope that all people aspire to be journalists in their own right, sharing opinions and stories through their lives and talents, whatever those may be. Journals have grown from being merely books for church services. They are stories of life which strengthens those living and those who will live. It is a beautiful legacy of thinking.