Posted by: paulfbove | July 7, 2008

Is James Kotecki a Journalist?

So, the class assignment for the week is to discuss whether James Kotecki, aka Emergency Cheese, was a journalist prior to his joining The Politico. Further, we are asked “What’s the difference between what he was doing in his dorm room and what Chris Matthews does on Hardball?” (Aside to Garrett: Please think of a new way to phrase that next time. I prefer not to think about what people are doing in their dorm rooms.)

In his own words, Kotecki states

I’ve gone from being very skeptical about the media to seeing a lot more of it to now being part of it. It’s been a really interesting transition. I have a much more nuanced view of it. The way that the market is structured I realize why they ask the questions they do, why they feel like they have to ask the most obvious questions because most people are hearing these answers for the first time.

Anyway, let’s start with the second part of the question. Frankly, aside from dribs and drabs of it, I’ve never really seen Hardball, so I have no idea if Kotecki is similar to Matthews. I HAVE seen the spoofs of Hardball on Saturday Night Live and those make me laugh, so in that regard, yes, Kotecki is similar to Matthews. Darrell Hammond does a great Chris Matthews. But seriously, I get the premise of Hardball, and yes, Kotecki is doing the same thing. In fact he’s doing what any pundit does–take a topic, an issue, a person, and dissects and discusses. That is the point behind analysis. Kotecki simply happens to do his version from a dorm room while using a computer and video camera. Matthews has a studio and a TV crew. Otherwise, they are both accomplishing the same goal.

Which leads to the other part of the question: Was Kotecki a journalist? I would argue that yes, he was. First, let’s visit our old friend Wikipedia for a definition

A journalist (also called a newspaperman) is a person who practises journalism, the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people.

Does Kotecki accomplish that? Yes. He views current videos on YouTube, disseminates the information, and then discusses it with his own video response. Sounds like journalism to me. So why is there even a question about it? Well, as mentioned above, Kotecki was making his videos from his dorm room. Traditionalists will argue that that does not constitute real journalism because Kotecki is just a person who likes politics and discusses them from his room, while videotaping himself. They may argue that it is a form of fanaticism, not journalism. But the key idea is that because of the advent of social media, Kotecki is in the vanguard of what would be “new” journalism. He is conducting a conversation using the new mediums that are available to all of us. He took citizen journalism to a professional level by voicing his opinions. Hell, he managed to get Ron Paul to come to his dorm for an interview!! If that’s not journalism, then I don’t know what is. See the video below

And what of social media? It’s a new frontier. Anyone can be a journalist, videographer, photographer, writer, or whatever they want. Social media has changed the rules so that everyone has a chance to get into the game.

As my hero and savior, Hunter S. Thompson, said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Some people still say that social media is weird–well, here’s the perfect opportunity to turn it pro. Kotecki did with his video analysis.

When the going gets weird

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