Placing journalism in art. Can you?

Can journalism be art? And by that I have no intentions as to how to respond to such an open-ended question. But for myself I am asking from a few discussions I have recently partaken in. There is the aesthetic element that goes into reporting the news, but also there is the literary element. How you write, how you express your opinions, how you organize what is written? All of these have aesthetic elements but do those elements make journalism art?


The newspaper became part of art with Picasso’s collage. Where is it now and can a journalist be an artist? What about a news reporter? Benjamin wrote that it was fascism that made politics art and thus created Triumph of the Will. But perhaps journalism had something to do with it as well.



I don’t have answers yet as to the connection between journalism and art, but at the very least I do not think they are completely separate.





8 Responses to Placing journalism in art. Can you?

  1. Mark says:

    Journalism is indistinguishable from art. Journalism is the art of conveying “gathered” information. Now, let’s take step back from that and think about the process of gathering and relate it to Picasso’s collages with newspapers. He is conveying “gathered” information — different sources, places, histories, biographies, reports, et cetera … Journalism is simply a mosaic of collages — a day to day presentation of an aesthetic that has resonated with western culture for quite some time. Given its root in day to day life, simpletons can’t understand it’s absurd nature and we all would be much better off if we could admit that this is nothing and nothing is what we need. Well, I would rather have my journalism reported by Samuel Rosenstock.

  2. huysmans says:

    Thank you for the comments Mark, however I would like to suggest a counter argument. To take from a debate that we could spend hours on in it of itself, that of the differences between arts and crafts, I would suggest that perhaps journalism, and by that I mean all aspects of journalism (photos, writers, layout, opinions, columns, etc), has a primary purpose of providing information. That primary purpose distinguishes it from what Picasso is doing, he has no responsibilities to truths or facts or governments or anyone but himself in what he does, thus because of its primary purpose as something other than the pursuit of art it by definition cannot be art.

    But then again perhaps all art has some kind of other primary purpose, or maybe even we can pose the argument that art should not be defined by a lack of a primary purpose.

  3. Mark says:

    Well, in looking at journalism from a historical perspective, maybe its primary purpose was to deliver information, but that has been lost. It has largely become sensationalist. Journalism has become a hodgepodge of stimulations. Art stimulates. Picasso stimulates with his hodgepodge of cutouts…

    And art…whatever idiot created it…didn’t he think of it as a method to deliver information…a record keeping of sorts.

  4. David says:

    I think that the notion of journalism, broadly conceived, could be classified in a variety of ways. While it certainly does have an aesthetic quality (as does anything that is produced and tangible), it is a collaborative effort. The author of a specific piece has little control over the way it will ultimately be presented, for the design department is charged with making everything fit into the printed edition in a coherent and tidy way.

    But I think that the notion of journalism as an art form is markedly less ambiguous in the case of photojournalism. As with photography more generally, the artist (in this case the person with the camera) is charged with a specific task, that is to capture a moment. While at times such a visual story may coincide or complement a written piece, it need not do so to classify as photojournalism. The most powerful photograph is that which is technically sound, sure, but also that which captures the essence of a moment, freezing it forever in time. Take this renowned photograph by South African photographer Kevin Carter for example:

    I also somewhat disagree with the notion the the purpose of journalism is to provide information. I would argue that the primary purpose is actually a nuanced variation on the mere provision of information, namely the presentation of information. The newspaper team (for it is often a collaborative effort) is charged with interpreting the information they receive and packaging in a way that will be marketable to the general public. They are a subjective third party in the transmission of information that have a great deal of creative agency in the way that information is presented.

    It seems to me that journalism is certainly an art form.

  5. David says:

    here is the website. sorry the above link did not work:

  6. Dan says:

    I think I agree with David. Journalism by definition cannot have a “sole purpose” because in my view there are no facts unaffected by those who transmit them. Journalists are required to pare down the facts they chose to present. This is not only a creative process but also an ideological one. While I am no expert in art, these seem to be nearly the same processes that go into at least some works of art (Picasso’s Guernica comes to mind). This art clearly is designed to send a message (convey information) to the viewers in addition to the more purely “artistic” ends. It seems to me that journalism and art at least can be two sides of the same coin.

  7. […] made some assumptions along the way here that lead to arguments once had on Literature’s Next Frontie, where does journalism fall in the world of art? With reviews we have a similar situation as there […]

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