+ The Elements of Journalism What role does journalism play within our society and the world we live in?
+ The Elements of Journalism The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self- governing. The news media helps us to define our community. It helps us create a common knowledge and language rooted in reality. It helps a community identify it’s goals, heroes and villains. The real meaning of the 1st Amendment means that journalism must be an independent institution.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. Our primary duty is to get the facts right. News is the material that people use to learn and think about the world beyond themselves. Because of this, the information must be usable and reliable. For truth to prevail, journalists must make clear to whom they owe their first loyalty.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalism’s first loyalty is to citizens. This gave birth to the phrase “journalistic independence.” Consumers know that the restaurant review they are reading was not influenced by that same restaurants ad in the paper, online or on their broadcast. Because of this, journalists must maintain ethical guidelines by not accepting gifts, etc. by those whom they cover.
+ The Elements of Journalism The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification. All your life your parents have told you, “We love you.” Two things; 1) How do you know they love you? 2)How do you know they are your parents? Journalism alone is focused on getting what happened down right. A journalist is someone who steps away from the table and tries to see it all.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover. We move in their world but it is THEIR world. Conflict of interest: when a journalist covers a story about an event, place, person, etc. in which they are personally involved. This independence is even more important when you consider…
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power. Watergate – 1972 – President Nixon is caught involved in a break-in of the Democratic National Committee and resigns as president. More than just government, it extends to all powerful institutions in society. Journalism gives voice to the voiceless.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalism must provide a forum for public criticism and comment. Journalism serves as a public forum, a place for the sharing of information, ideas and the debate of those ideas. This comes in the form of letters to the editor, phone forums, guest columnists, etc. This forum must adhere to all other principles and relate to the role journalism plays in a democracy.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalists must make the significant relevant and interesting. There is no such thing as a boring story, there are only boring reporters. Journalists are storytellers, with a purpose.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalists should keep the news in proportion and make it comprehensive. A front page story that is fun and interesting but by no reasonable definition contains anything significant is a distortion. Consumers should ask: 1. Can we see the whole community in the coverage? 2. Do I see myself? 3. Does the report include a fair mix of what most people would consider either interesting or significant.
+ The Elements of Journalism Journalists have an obligation to personal conscience. Every journalist must have a sense of personal ethics and responsibility – a moral compass. They must recognize a personal obligation to disagree with editors, owners, advertisers, and even citizens.