Critical Perspectives on the European Mediasphere. The intellectual work of the 2011 European media and communication doctoral summer school.

Title chapter: Who are you calling a journalist can one form of communication command special protection?
Author: Francis Shennan
Keywords: journalism, journalist, rights, status, legal protection
Abstract: Defining the essence of journalism has largely been the preserve of the aphorist, whether portraying journalism as the first draft of history or the journalist as a machine which turns coffee into copy. Yet distinguishing it from the constant flow of information from numerous sources should be a worthwhile exercise. Developing a rationale for protecting communications we deem fundamental to the functioning of society should strengthen the protection journalism enjoys in democratic societies. That in turn should make restrictions on it more difficult to enact. Such a comprehensible rationale would be of practical benefit: to lawmakers in drafting laws for the media, to journalists in understanding the activities that can legitimately attract legal protection, and to the owners and managers of news organisations large and small. If they understand their role in relation to the legal rights that journalism can expect, they will understand their duty not to hamper the exercise of those rights.
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