Here's an example, from internet deep learning celebrity Siraj Raval:
(not denying any of the credentials you quoted in your comment though, just responding to that particular point)
It is proof that she wrote a book.
To present an analogy about Susan Fowler with "if a journalist with no experience..." is to present an analogy that is factually incorrect regarding her experience.
If a person created an open-source project on nights and weekends that received industry-wide acclaim, regardless of day job, he/she would most certainly be getting job offers.
They are different jobs. You can write a book without doing any investigative reporting, but it would be hard for a journalist to do so. Siraj Raval might be a published author, but he still has next to no experience being a journalist.
Here's the link in case anyone is interested:
So I think writing a topical piece does make you a journalist, though perhaps not one qualified for prestigious awards.