Opinion: What Is a Journalist?


November 3, 2021




There is no hard and fast rule for who can be considered a journalist. There are different types of journalists. Some may be hard news reporters, some are magazine writers, some journalists write non-fiction articles for The New York Times etc. 

One such radio host/author who fits the bill, in my opinion, is a man who calls himself Charlamagne tha God, also known as Lenard Larry McKelvey. Charlamagne is one of the main co-hosts for Power 105.1 “The Breakfast Club,”  a show that discusses gossip in the hip-hop industry as well as sex and dating controversies. He is the author of his book Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It. Radio Hall of Fame listed “The Breakfast Club,” as the most listened to Hip-Hop and R&B morning show (airs Monday to Friday from 6am-10am and on Saturday’s from 7am-10am) in not only New York City, but America. But Charlamagne is no disc jockey. Not only does he report on what is going on in hip-hop celebrities’ lives, he conducts research on social media and televisions, on the things he sees the Black community goes through and presents how they can receive help for their mental health on his show. 


I’d consider him a journalist because he speaks and interviews a subject on stories he believes is relevant to the world at the moment. Charlamagne touches on the fact that many people within the black community do not have people that care much about their mental health, which makes black men specifically not know how to be vulnerable. People tune into his show, “Tha God’s Honest Truth,” to get updates on mental health in the black community. For example, Charlamagne would invite guests like comedian Chico Bean and Vezzo to talk about the things they went through and how it affected their mental health. Vezzo explains to Chico Bean in an episode that he lost his nephew, his grandfather and he lost one of his closest friends. Bean relates explaining that he lost his father when he was two years old and that affected his relationship with his mother. Charlamagne introduced them to Neurofeedback Brain Training.


Outside of his show, Charlamagne is respected within the media because he is known to get certain stories or answers out of certain celebrities or public figures that others can’t get out of these people. As it describes him to be controversial and an advocate for mental health issues within the Black community. For example, Charlemagne interviewed Kanye West on his mental health. If you know Kanye West you know that he doesn’t do interviews. He decided to sit down with Charlamagne for a youtube interview that received over 11 million views. In the interview Kanye mentioned he wouldn’t have done this with anyone else beside Charlamagne because he “understands.”  He opened up about his mental health, his change in music career, his fall out with Jay-Z and many others to Charlamagne that the public wanted to see and hear. 


Being an ethical known journalist will allow the interviewee to be more comfortable speaking to you. People hate journalists that put out information that isn’t the full truth. Charlamagne is known to give it to the public raw. For example, Drake’s Toosie Slide was listed #1 on Rolling Stone’s Top 100 songs chart as well as #1 on other platforms, and Charlamagne still stated the song was “wack” . Social media or radio is also another way society can tell if your story is credible or not. On The Breakfast Club, Charlamagne has a segment called “Donkey of The Day.” During this segment listeners wait to see what story Charlamagne will pick and who he will give the Donkey of The Day title to. 


He has credibility in this segment because he gives the real on the insane things people have recently done (celebrity or not). The moment someone reads something that is in your story that is not true, they are more likely to expose it and society probably won’t recommend your news elsewhere, and they might even share your story to tell everyone why your work isn’t credible. Charlamagne has had these issues at times. As a journalist, if you’re talking and writing on a topic you feel strongly about, people will slander you if they disagree with you just like they did when he slutshamed Amber Rose. 


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