Have your beliefs about news changed? What is the future of news?

Four months ago, we ask students in our environmental and public health journalism course at the University of Michigan to write ten, one-sentence statements about news that began with the words “I believe.” After practicing reporting and journalistic writing, critiquing news stories, experimenting with various digital forms of communication and working in teams to develop news innovation ideas over the coldest Michigan winter in memory, how have those beliefs changed? Or not? 

If you’re not in this course, how have your beliefs about news changed recently? What, in your opinion, is the future of news? 

Thank you for sharing your views. That’s a gift. We appreciate it. 

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About emiliaaskari

Journalist, teacher, news game designer. Promoting digital literacy and content creation in the public interest.

9 Responses to “Have your beliefs about news changed? What is the future of news?”

  1. It is hard to believe that it has been three or four months already. When we started the class, this is what I believed about journalism. As it turns out, not that much has changed about these statements, but I would add new ones if I had known what I do now.

    The Former:
    I believe:

    1. That the most challenging thing about being a journalist is accepting that I can’t cover everything I am interested in, that deserves a story, and that can help people.

    2. The Newsroom is the best TV show I watch

    3. The New York Times (print) is a particularly amazing news source

    4. The news as a whole does a bad job of representing and connecting how things affect you and how much

    5. News is moving faster and faster because people have short attention spans.

    6. Facebook’s news feed home page is truly becoming a “news feed”. Twitter is connected to it now and news outlets, companies, people etc are posting release-style news on it more often

    7. Tom Rinaldi is amazing (ESPN shorts, does very personal stories)

    8. It is hard to know whether some stories are credible because there are so many news websites these days with all kinds of names

    9. It is easier logistically to write the news than to televise it, and as a broadcaster I wish it were the other way ‘round.

    10. Journalists have an exciting job

    NOW:
    1. I have two equally hard tasks to add. 1. Deciding what story I want to tell just within one story and trying to predict what questions I need to tell that story. WIth more experience, I am becoming better at anticipating what I would have had to go back for a second time. I still am working on it, and it is even harder with video journalism. 2. Knowing how to frame a question to start a dialogue with the answers you want, rather than just being able to ask the “hard” (direct, possibly controversial) questions. It’s not easy to prevent defensiveness if you just ask it directly.
    5: I will add that it’s not just attention spans, but just the trend. If you can get news out fast, it can go fast. But it’s harder and harder to do fact-checking and well-rounded stories with instantaneous reporting.

  2. Previously:
    I believe……
    1. that the role professional news organizations play in my life will….. Hopefully help scientists
    gain public trust and thus, ultimately grants
    2. that everyone can be a journalist if…… They know how to determine what’s important from
    what’s not.
    3. that my greatest strength as a journalist is….. A wide range of interests.
    4. that my greatest challenge as a journalist is….. Being forward with people and talkative;
    treating a story as a story and not a research project.
    5. that the best journalism…… Presents facts but gets you interested to follow the story for more information as it develops.
    6. that the biggest problem with journalism today is….. You can’t tell whose vested interests are whose.
    7. that the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is…. engaging my age group
    8. that a great idea for a new way of delivering news is…. an app where every story is tagged
    with keywords, and you can set your preferences for only the topics you’re interested in to
    show up on the main feed.
    9. that interviewing people about news is….. a great way to get perspectives that may not be
    represented in the news organization
    10. that writing for the general public is….a great responsibility,and would be challenging to
    stay specific but not too technical.

    Now:
    I would say my statements held true throughout the semester. That could be because they’re vague. Now, because of this class, I am getting better at being more clear, so that has changed.
    I still haven’t found an answer to #6. A solution to this would be a website similar to ProPublica’s “Dollars for Docs” website, which elucidates some doctor’s financial ties.
    I can see a solution to #7 being simply to involve my age group, whether that’s through promoting taking journalism classes or sharing my experiences with this class with others.
    I can now believe that anyone can be a journalist. All you need is a sense of direction, critical thinking skills, and especially the courage to call someone instead of emailing them!

  3. Previously:

    I believe…

    1. that the role professional news organizations will continue to be a large source of information for me throughout my life, even though I am skeptical of the legitimacy and motivation for many of the stories in the media.
    2. that the most challenging thing about being a journalist is trying to understand the deeper meaning behind the stories being covered and getting people to open up and tell you the truth about what is actually going on.
    3. that the future of news is a mass of semi-independent journalists using unaffiliated platforms to reach the masses, along with a oligarchy of huge, rich news organizations that will cater to certain groups and reinforce preconceptions.
    4. that many people may try to be journalists, but for the most part, the profession is a tough one that will reward those with the ability, reject those without it (I would put myself in this category), and allow the survival of the ones willing to tell people what they want to hear.
    5. that my greatest strength as a journalist is my ability to understand people.
    6. that my greatest challenge as a journalist is my preconceptions about many issues, I feel that I may struggle presenting from an unbiased perspective.
    7. that the best journalism is unbiased, in depth, and unique in its dissection and understanding of a topic.
    8. that the biggest problem with journalism today is that the news corporations that handle most of the news are more focused on ratings and money and catering to a certain audience than actually reporting the news. Today on CNN they were talking about Jennifer Lawrence’s dress at the Golden Globes.
    9. that the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is globalization. In every way. Economic globalization, social globalization etc. We are in the midst of the biggest revolution since the industrial revolution, and with revolutions come stories to report.
    10. that a great idea for a new way of delivering news is the Vice News model. Reporting online, accessible by anyone with a computer at any time, in a largely ubiased (liberal) way. They are conducting investigative reporting like I have never seen before. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been exposed to much, and Vice seems to be trying to reach “my” market (young guys), but I think it is great journalism

    Now… Most of all, I think anyone can be a journalist. After looking at more casual, blog-style news sources like UpWorthy, it is apparent that journalism is changing. These types of mediums give people the platform to bring up issues that they think are important, and they give everyone the ability to be journalists. This doesn’t mean that everyone will succeed as journalists. It just gives everyone a shot. By leaving ratings and corporations out of it, independent journalists are rewarded by public regard for their work. It’s definitely an interesting evolution as the internet becomes available throughout the world.
    I still think that journalism is a really hard profession, and doing it right is even harder. Presenting topics in a completely unbiased light has been very challenging for me.

  4. *Previously:
    I BELIEVE….
    1. that the role professional news organizations play in my life will….. really impact how knowledgeable I am on a subject matter. I believe that the job of a professional news organization is to provide me (the public) with the most fair and unbiased news so that I am able to interpret a situation as I see fit.
    2. that the most challenging thing about being a journalist is…… providing objective and credible news that will garner attention from the public.
    3. that the future of news will be rooted in technology and will focus on immediate alerts, featuring short sound bites and text, which will be sent to smartphones, tablets, and computers.
    4. that everyone can be a journalist if…… they are actively searching for the truth, and trying to determine both sides to a story.
    5. that my greatest strength as a journalist is….. my desire to find the truth, and understanding that I am not always right.
    6. that my greatest challenge as a journalist is….. the ability to dig deeper and ask the uncomfortable questions, which often provide the best perspectives.
    7. that the best journalism…… has a global perspective and is not just focused on one country.
    8. that the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is…. the huge expansion of technology and how news can be relayed in an instant.
    9. that interviewing people about news is…. crucial in understanding a topic because you want to understand how the public, or a normal citizen, sees an issue.
    10. that writing for the general public is…. difficult because there is a fine line between being interesting and being entertaining.

    *Now:
    I think that many of these statements have remained true. However, now I can say that I have a better understanding of these belief statements because I have spent the semester trying to be a better journalist and learn the art of reporting. I would like to add on to my first statement about professional news organizations. I think that they will continue to provide (hopefully) an unbiased portrayal of the news, but I also think that their importance may decrease. Our class has taught me that anyone can become a journalist if they have a passion for reporting the news and a medium to do so. So I think that there may be a shift to less professionally organized news sources. I think that my #3 is also very important. We’ve learned how to tweet professionally during our time in class, and I think that Twitter, and other instant types of social media will be the best way for news to travel quickly to someone. In a time where we are becoming so attached to our smartphones, it will be integral to receive our news through that. I also feel very strongly about my statement #9. This was definitely my greatest struggle as a journalist, especially when interviewing my profile subject. There is definitely an art to conducting an interview, and I think that our time with the speakers each class has let me break out of my comfort zone and ask challenging questions that I would not have asked prior to this class.

  5. Previously:

    I believe……
    1. That the role professional news organizations play in my life will increase due to an increased desire to stay informed and up to date on current events thanks to this class.
    2. That the most challenging thing about being a journalist is to be unbiased and to report the news based on facts and statistics rather than one’s own personal view on the issue.
    3. That everyone can be a journalist if they are passionate about the issue they are pursuing.
    4. That my greatest strength as a journalist is my desire to learn more about certain topics.
    5. That my greatest challenge as a journalist involves asking the right questions that reveals interesting and important information.
    6. That the best journalism involves a lot of research as well as a passion for the subject.
    7. That the biggest problem with journalism today is reporting the truth and all the facts, rather than skewing the information to support a certain opinion on the issue.
    8. That the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is the forms of relaying information to everyone, and the vast mediums available.
    9. That a great idea for a new way of delivering news is through satirical mediums such as The Jon Stewart Show.
    10. That writing for the general public involves being aware of the differences amongst the general public and being able to report news that will affect the majority of population.

    When I began this class I knew practically nothing about journalism. However, over the course of this semester, I feel I have experienced and learned about various aspects of journalism world. Most of my beliefs have actually remained the same despite my previous lack of knowledge. Specifically, my previous beliefs regarding that passion and a desire to learn more is necessary in order to be a journalist. Journalism requires a lot of research, interviews, and time and you need to be willing and dedicated to journalism to follow through on these aspects.
    However, I think one of the biggest problems with journalism today is being able to get facts and information on current hot-topic issues. From what we have learned in class, government agencies and politicians do not always provide a lot or completely accurate information to journalists at reasonable times. I never really considered the barriers in terms of receiving information present to journalists.

  6. Responses from the beginning of the year:
    I believe…
    1. that the role professional news organizations play in my life will become clearer once I am no longer in school.
    2. that the most challenging thing about being a journalist is covering a story from every angle so that there are not any major questions left after a piece is complete.
    3. that the future of news is online, distributed primarily through social media.
    4. that everyone can be a journalist if they have a genuine interest in a topic which they want to learn more about and tell people about.
    5. that the best journalism is entertaining, informative, and capturing.
    6. that the biggest problem with journalism today is that is it is too negative.
    7. that the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is the opportunity to really make a lasting physical effect on our world by educating people about environmental issues like global warming, species loss, and habitat destruction.
    8. that a great idea for a new way of delivering news is to approach every story with a more optimistic perspective, which would make people feel better about the world and better about themselves.
    9. that interviewing people about news is challenging because the everyday person does not know that much about the news.
    10. that writing for the general public is difficult because it is sometimes hard to understand what the public already knows and what needs to be explained to them.

    Now:
    To be honest, a lot of my ideas have not changed. My thinking HAS changed in the sense that now I believe I can be a journalist. I am a journalist. This might sound cliche and sappy, but at the beginning of the semester, I was going into this class completely blind. I was not a very enthusiastic consumer of the news and I had no idea how to even start thinking about writing a news story. Everyone can be a journalist. It’s not hard. You don’t have to be perfect. Just go out there, find a story, and tell people about it. When you come down to it, that’s all it takes. I still believe the news is too negative. I still think that people should try to be more optimistic. But now I feel like I can go out and be the person to make that change in the industry.

  7. *I believe…*

    1. That the role professional news organizations play in my life will grow in the coming years as I get older and start getting more involved in keeping up with current events on my own time, and will perhaps one day play the role of my employer.

    2. That the most challenging thing about being a journalist is remaining objective and not letting your personal biases and beliefs affect your ability to write a fair story representing both sides of an issue.

    3. That the future of news is in the hands of our generation, whether we decide to incorporate social media into it more than we already have, or revert to traditional journalistic styles devoid of the entertainment aspects we see in news today.

    4. That everyone can be a journalist if they are curious about current events and passionate about truthfully informing the general public about events they may not encounter without a news organization.

    5. That the best journalism is the journalism that is the most bold and innovative, the kind that can persuade people to change their minds on a topic, and inspire real change in the world.

    6. That the biggest problem with journalism today is its preoccupation with selling entertainment rather than providing unbiased news.

    7. That the biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is the choice to stray from following the mainstream “entertainment news”, and instead return to traditional journalistic practices while incorporating new technology (like social media) to communicate the news.

    8. That a great idea for a new way of delivering news is using the concept of the app “Vine” to provide quick ten second or so video summaries of big news stories that can be posted to social media and linked to the written story.

    9. That interviewing people about news is difficult because as a journalist you have a responsibility to provide the whole truth objectively, so you have to be sure to ask the right questions.

    10. That writing for the general public is vital to not only our society to function, but to democracy as a whole; in order for citizens to be well-informed voters, they must be provided with an ethically sound news source that can truthfully illuminate the problems we face in the world so that we can work to solve them.

    When I wrote the “I Believe” assignment at the beginning of the year, I had a pretty strong understanding of what journalism is and where I stand as a writer/journalist. But since then, some parts of that assignment have changed.

    I wrote a lot about the changing world of journalism, and how journalists must choose to either accept the new forms of media to communicate their messages, or revert to traditional journalism. However, this class has illuminated that it is journalism that is fundamentally changing in addition to the environment it’s presented in. Drawing from both the discussions we’ve had in class as well as Borscher’s piece in this week’s reading, I now understand that the difference between modern and traditional journalism is that it has become less of a form of storytelling, and more of a conversation. Technology and social media allows readers to engage with the authors of what they read in ways never previously seen. Although the fundamental purpose of journalism is virtually the same, the role of a journalist has evolved.

  8. 1. I believe that the most challenging thing about being a journalist is finding the right people to talk to, and finding those connections.
    2. I believe that the future of news will continue to get more digital (online instead of print) and more personalized.
    3. I believe that writing for the general public will never please everyone and can never be perfect.
    4. I believe that news is very biased and that people should be more skeptical of what they hear/read/see.
    5. I believe that people should be more in-tuned to the news and make more of an effort to know what is happening in the world.
    6. I believe that journalism will help me be more aware of what is happening in Ann arbor and the world.
    7. I believe that news and journalism is an excellent way of connecting to the world around you.
    8. I believe that journalism, if you get good, can earn you a lot of friends and connections, as well as a number of “enemies”.
    9. I believe that journalism is a way to broaden the way you see the world.
    10. I believe that news is very powerful because it is a lens through which so many people view places and people that they never see face to face.

    These beliefs are surprisingly still accurate. I new absolutely nothing about how to be a journalist before taking this course, so I was expecting more of a change. However, I definitely have formed many new beliefs because of this course. I believe very strongly that journalism is very necessary and must continue in some form (even if the classic newspaper dies out). I also believe that it is extremely difficult to fight bias and that pleasing your interviewees is not a luxury that journalists have. Journalists must tell the story the way that see it, and that is the best they can do. Additionally, my appreciation for the work that journalists do has increased so much because of this class. An incredible amount of work has to be done before the first draft is even written. Finally, I believe that I have benefited from all of the skills I have gained in this class (researching, interviewing, journalistic writing), even if I do not ever become a journalist.

  9. Here are my previous beliefs:

    1) I believe the most challenging thing about being a journalist is putting in the work and finding the story instead trying to force one.
    2) I believe that the future of news lies in unconventional journalism and different forms of citizen journalism.
    3) I believe that everyone can be a journalist if they commit themselves to the craft and put in the effort.
    4) I believe my greatest strength as a journalist is my varied interests and my ability to write well.
    5) I believe my greatest challenge as a journalist will be to challenge myself to get all the facts and thoroughly research a subject while trying to suppress my opinion.
    6) I believe that the best journalism is interesting, informative, and factual.
    7) I believe that the biggest problem with journalism today is the corporate/government intervention and mixed motives.
    8) The biggest opportunity facing news organizations today is starting a journalistic revolution of accurate, unbiased writing.
    9) I believe that a great new way of delivering news is by word of mouth or public forums.
    10) I believe that interviewing people about news is inherently challenging but can be fruitful if a connection is established with the subject.
    11) I believe that writing for the general public is both a privilege and a responsibility.
    12) I believe that this course and journalism in general is a difficult process but can be rewarding and talent can be achieved through commitment.

    Now:
    1) I still feel that this is definitely true, and something I will need to work on if I want to become a good journalist.
    2) I suppose I still believe this but I also recognize the need for the resources that large news organizations can provide.
    3) Definitely still true.
    4) I would say that this is both a blessing and a curse, and I’m certainly better at creative writing than journalism.
    5) Definitely still true, journalism is not easy work.
    6) I would add “important” to this list as well.
    7) This is by far the worst thing about corporate news sources and journalism in general.
    8) I would still like to hope that this could be possible one day.
    9) I would say that this is more personal preference because I enjoy public speaking.
    10) Still true, and also interviews are way more intricate than I originally thought.
    11) I really like this one, but I guess of course I do because I wrote it.
    12) Certainly still holds true.

    Overall I would describe this course as informative to say the least. I’m now realizing how little I knew about journalism before taking this course, and I am now much better able to realistically evaluate it as a profession and decide whether or not it is something for me. I really enjoyed this course for the most part and I hope to use the skills that I have learned in this course to do some journalistic work in the future, whether as a hobby or possibly as a profession.

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