When is a journalist not a journalist?

“This journalist is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late journalist. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch, it would be pushing up the daisies. It’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-journalist.”

Excuse the tinkering with a famous quote, but it came to mind when a student sent me an email saying they’d found me on a list of hyperlocal producers.

Originally created by the now defunct OpenlyLocal, the excellent hyperlocal map of the UK has a listing for my very own LichfieldLive.

Founded by an ex-journalist living in Lichfield…

I’m not offended by the description at all. In fact, it made me chuckle. But it did pose an interesting question. When does a journalist cease to be a journalist?

Since leaving the industry full-time to go into academia I’ve been put into a number of categories. Hyperlocal, citizen journalism, part-time journalist – any attempt to categorise non-traditional media has been applied. But none of the caps have been a comfortable fit.

So having been labelled a former journalist, I was intrigued by the definition of the word itself:

A person who writes for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or prepares news to be broadcast

Whereas citizen journalism is defined somewhat differently?

The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet.

There’s a problem with classification clearly. The blurring between the two is obvious. In effect, I’m publishing to a news website so I’m a journalist. But then I’m also disseminating news and information as a member of the public?

So it seems that I’m an ex-journalist who is showing signs of life. Or a journalist in media purgatory to put it another way.

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