Oakland blogger Mayhill Fowler (pictured) says she was acting as a journalist when she taped Barack Obama at a private San Francisco fundraiser discussing small-town voters. A check of OpenSecrets.com shows she has contributed $2,250 to Obama and $250 to Republican Fred Thompson. Fowler tells The New York Times that she was initially reluctant to write about what Obama had said because she supports him. Her hesitation explains the four-day gap between the event and when she posted her scoop at OffTheBus.net, a Web site published by Huffington Post. Ultimately she said that if she didn’t write about it, she wouldn’t be worth her salt as a journalist, as the Times put it. Fowler, 61, is part of a network of 1,800 unpaid writers and researchers who contribute to OffTheBus. Obama supporters have called Fowler a plant for Hillary Clinton and say she was deceptive in getting into the fund-raiser. (Photo credit: OffTheBus.net)

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  1. Am I the only one who hates the term journalist? It’s so broad that you can apply it to anyone who has an opinion about the news, or anyone who accidently happens upon news, like Ms. Fowler. It’s so broad as to become meaningless.

  2. Mayhill Fowler was faced with a choice. She had to ask whether she was first and foremost an Obama supporter or if she was a journalist. After a while of deliberating she decided that the ethics that bound her to her journalistic pursuits were more important than whatever negative impact may result from reporting the event as she saw it.

    If you compae Fowler’s actions to the ideals set forward in the SPJ code of ethics, I think you’ll see that Fowler stood up as a journalist and that the question proposed by the headline is myopic at best.

    Put forward any standard you want for what defines a journalist and unless you force the economic question into the equation Fowler is as much of a journalist as any Cable TV anchor person you’re likely to find. When was the last time anyone asked “Is Keith Olberman a journalist?”

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