After hearing about the topic of our new book Boundaries of Journalism, one of Matt’s colleagues stopped in to chat. He had just had a hotly contested debate over whether television sports reporters counted as journalists. He was making the argument that they did, and he looked to Matt apparently to sort things out.
If only it were as simple as consulting some master table to provide a yes-or-no, in-or-out kind of answer! But playing referee is not what is interesting about studying the boundaries of journalism. Instead, what’s much more vital is looking at the messiness and asking:Just what are we fighting over?
We came to the book because we were both interested in the same questions about boundaries. Readers of Nieman Lab are well familiar with the parade of new faces and ideas about journalism accompanying the rise of digital media. But what does it all mean? And how can we study it?
We saw the need to clarify how to think about boundaries, and we enlisted an international cast of journalism scholars to help. Before getting into what we wrote, it is important to start with why we wrote it. Exploring the boundaries of journalism is not an intellectual exercise relevant only to those of us in the academy. Definitions matter, because how we think about the issue of boundaries has real consequences. Matt makes this case in the introduction to the book: