I Still Believe

9-15-15:

I believe… 

  1. That the biggest problem facing journalism today is the intense focus on reporting what will be attractive to the public, not necessarily newsworthy.
  2. That the role professional news organizations play in my life is informing me of ongoing events in the world.
  3. That my greatest strength as a journalist is my pragmatic/clear writing style.
  4. That my greatest challenge as a journalist is collecting/researching facts and sources for a story.
  5. That writing for the general public can be challenging because some complex topics require a lot of foundational knowledge.
  6. That the best journalism is unbiased and not swayed by outside pressure.
  7. That the future of the news is online and hyper-real time.
  8. That interviewing people to create news is a skill I will learn this semester and will be practical outside of journalistic settings.
  9. That news/journalism can be an agent of positive change.
  10. That news/journalism can be used to mislead people.

12-8-15:

After a semester of finding interviewees, listening to guest speakers, and actually visiting a few places where stories broke (EPA lab- VW scandal, our classroom- Flint water crisis, to name a few), I have certainly learned a lot, and while  most of my beliefs did not change, they now come from a position of being more informed.

For example, I still believe #1 100%. However, I have gained empathy for journalists. Having worked hard to find a story myself, plus having learned about the news-explosion on the Internet (see below for more on #7), I can understand why that ends up happening. I am not endorsing it, merely stating that I understand where it comes from and rarely the conscious thought of any one actor.

#7 was, again, 100% confirmed. However, what I left out originally was any value-judgment. I never said it was good or bad. I now believe that this new boom in access to information is largely positive. From Google, to the Knight News Challenge, to individual entrepreneurs, the democratization of news will be largely beneficial to society, and that truly any negative aspects of this come from the chaos of rapid transition.

And I still believe in #9 and 10. Well researched, neutral, colorful journalism can be fantastic reading and be amazing enlightening of the human-experience, while biased, sloppy journalism can be bad at best and dangerously manipulative at worst. The key thing I’ll take away from this class though, is how truly hard writing the former can be. Whatever the media’s transition will lead us to, we’ll still need journalists (in whatever the new sense of the word may be) to tell the stories.

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