Before starting this letter, I sat down to find the actual definition of “journalism.” We all have a hand-wavey idea of what it means – likely very close to at least one of the definitions listed in any reference tool. I looked in many different sources, you know, to try to get some sort of consensus.
I will give only one set of definitions here, to save room, but be assured the other ones were quite similar – in content and indecisiveness. I have chosen Merriam Webster, partly because it’s one of the most trusted sources for all your dictionary needs, but also, it’s the most concise. I guess it’s that origination in print.
1 a : the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media b : the public press c : an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
2 a : writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine b : writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation c : writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest
The first set smacks of Circular Definitions. I may have just made up this term, but what I mean is a definition in which the definition leads to another word, whose definition leads right back to the first word. Not overly helpful.
The second set of definitions is where this gets a little more interesting, particularly B and C. Definition B suggests a simple, straight reporting of stuff that’s happened or going to happen. In definition B, one should not express a viewpoint. All sources reported this definition as applicable to “journalism.”
Definition C suggests tailoring one’s writing to appeal to a specific set of people. All sources also listed this, or something very like it, among their definitions. But is not the tailoring of writing to appeal, whether by subject covered, viewpoint covered, or details covered, a form of interpretation?
Designing writing to appeal to taste aside, don’t all newspapers and magazines have some manner of editorial injection of interpretation by placement of articles on the cover or on a certain page within, by allocating word counts per story, etc.? Try as we may to report just the facts, we interpret of a necessity, as there’s limited room for input, both in publications and in our readers’ brains.
So, where does that leave me and my research on journalism? Well, I have discovered that journalism is a nebulous, nuanced beast which cannot be defined without exceptions, contradictions and much argument. But, in some attempt to discuss journalism further, as it pertains to our beloved Game Industry, we present this week’s issue of The Escapist, The Rest of the Story. Enjoy!