Quebec pushing forward with controversial proposal to define ‘professional’ journalists

THE Quebec government’s proposal to create legislation that would define who is a professional journalist is first going to have to undergo public scrutiny, reports the National Post and The Suburban.com.

Public meetings will be held in 10 cities over six weeks, said The Mark.

Noting that the intention of the law would be to “distinguish those dedicated to ‘serving the public interest’ from ‘amateur bloggers,’” a column in the National Post called the proposal “alarming,” saying that citizen journalists should be “encouraged, not chilled.” Further, the article pointed out that the phrase “serving the public interest” was in itself disturbing, potentially deterring journalists from being critical.

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) in May convened a committee to study the proposed regulation and the broader issue of professionalization of journalists. The CAJ said it would issue an opinion on the proposal once the committee issues recommendations.

Another column in the National Post explained that the proposed regulation is based on a report from former journalist Dominique Payette who recommended that “professional” journalists be awarded certain access and privileges “in exchange for respecting certain yet-to-be-determined criteria.”

The column concluded that “Canadian media and journalists should be in full-scale revolt against this state of affairs.”

– Summer Harlow, Knight Center for Journalism in the Ameicas

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