OPINION: What is a space journalist?

In the face of all the “fake news” hullabaloo making the rounds lately, I started thinking about the state of space journalism and, more to the point, what exactly constitutes a “space journalist”?

Certainly there are those who cover happenings in the space industry who have garnered quite a following over the years, and as with any industry, there are those who command more attention than others…often garnered from years of focused professionalism covering the industry.

But just what is a space journalist? Is it someone who provides content to an established legacy news outlet? Internet-only site?

How about those who dedicate a majority of their social media activities to covering spaceflight topics? What about bloggers? Podcasters?

Does one need to have a degree in journalism? Should writing about spaceflight be the person’s primary source of income in order to be considered a journalist?

I’ve seen people who purport to be spaceflight journalists, yet they regularly inject their opinion into their pieces and/or social media interactions. Others seem to keep a relatively even approach to their content. Should a journalist always be impartial, or is it acceptable to occasionally show bias?

I don’t necessarily have the answers to these questions. Indeed, in the changing world of news media and the role social media plays in it, I’m not certain there is a monolithic answer. What are your thoughts — what is a space journalist?


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