Here’s the Macquarie Dictionary entry for the word “cunt”, because I need to refer to it in some posts I’m writing over coming days.
[This is my presentation for the Media140 Sydney panel “Do Journos Do it Better? Journalists in SocMedia Communities”. This is being posted here automatically, at 5pm, just as the panel is scheduled to start. Given that sessions earlier in the day may cover similar ground, I may well re-word things as I go.]
“Do journos do it better?” Do journos do what better? I think this is actually the more interesting question: What is it that journalists actually do in our society?
Or, to stick with the question, what do they do in “social media communities” — although as I’ll explain, all communities are “social media communities”?
Now if I were presenting an Oscar I’d start by quoting the dictionary. “The Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘journalist’ as ‘someone engaged in journalism’.”
However “journalism” in turn is glossed as “the occupation of writing for, editing, and producing newspapers and other periodicals, and television and radio shows”.
So the question as stated is meaningless. Of course journalists are better at “It” — journalism — because they’re the ones doing it. If you’re not a journalist you’re not doing journalism, therefore you’re not merely bad at it, you’re not even doing it at all!
This is why I think the whole bloggers versus journalists debate was and still is so incredibly stupid. Both sets of people are doing much the same thing — creating words and pictures, probably about current events, maybe for money, maybe for the love of it or for professional status. Maybe they’re doing it well, maybe they’re doing it badly.
But during the Industrial Age, journalism with a capital “J” ended up meaning, specifically, the employees of industrial mass-media factories — especially newspapers. Employees whose jobs were to create the specific widgets of news needed by a production line — a five-paragraph story, a 30-second radio news item or whatever.
Or, with respect to my friends at the MEAA, “journalist” meant membership of a certain trade union.
Now, coming back to that word “social” in “social media”â€¦
I’m not the only one critical of the Macquarie Dictionary, it seems. Big fat media empire Fairfax is switching over to using the Australian Oxford Dictionary. Crikey has the story (behind the paywall for the moment). They quote the Fairfax memo: “Style officers from major papers in the group agree that the Oxford has a stronger sense of style than the Macquarie, offers concise, informative definitions and clearly states its preference for word usage, and therefore is better suited for use in a media organisation.”
Final reminder: You have until midnight tonight (Sydney time) to vote in Macquarie Dictionary‘s Word of the Year poll.
I’m disappointed with the choices. The criterion is “the most valuable contribution to the English language in 2007.” All of these words pre-date 2007, and in this category the Macquarie faces its strongest criticism for being slow to add new data.