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JOURNALISM: Where Truth and Stories meet.

Fr. Ueng

Journalismistheactivityofgathering,assessing,creating,
andpresentingnewsandinformation.Itisalsotheproduct
oftheseactivities.
Journalismcanbedistinguishedfromotheractivitiesand
productsbycertainidentifiablecharacteristicsand
practices.Theseelementsnotonlyseparatejournalism
fromotherformsofcommunication,theyarewhatmakeit
indispensabletodemocraticsocieties.Historyrevealsthat
themoredemocraticasociety,themorenewsand
informationittendstohave.
Theworld,andespeciallytheonlineworld,isawashin
communication.
Thevastmajorityofthiscommunication,however,isnot
newsandespeciallynotjournalism.Almost70percentof
emailtrafficisspam,accordingtowebsecuritycompany
Symantec.In2012,therewereanaverageof175million
tweetseachday.Butalmostall99%consistedof
pointlessbabble,accordingtoresearchersatCarnegie
MellonUniversity.
Whilejournalismoccupiesamuchsmallerspacethanthe
talk,entertainment,opinion,assertion,advertisingand
propagandathatdominatethemediauniverse,itis
neverthelessperceivedasbeingmorevaluablethanmostof
thestuffoutthere.
Thatvalueflowsfromitspurpose,toprovidepeoplewith
verifiedinformationtheycanusetomakebetterdecisions,
anditspractices,themostimportantofwhichisa

systematicprocessadisciplineofverificationthat
journalistsusetofindnotjustthefacts,butalsothetruth
aboutthefacts.
Thepurposeofjournalism,writeBillKovachandTom
RosenstielinTheElementsofJournalism,isnotdefined
bytechnology,norbyjournalistsorthetechniquesthey
employ.Rather,theprinciplesandpurposeofjournalism
aredefinedbysomethingmorebasic:thefunctionnews
playsinthelivesofpeople.
Newsisthatpartofcommunicationthatkeepsusinformed
ofthechangingevents,issues,andcharactersintheworld
outside.Thoughitmaybeinterestingorevenentertaining,
theforemostvalueofnewsisasautilitytoempowerthe
informed.
Thepurposeofjournalismisthustoprovidecitizenswith
theinformationtheyneedtomakethebestpossible
decisionsabouttheirlives,theircommunities,their
societies,andtheirgovernments.
There are three major divisions of journalism: written journalism,
oral journalism and visual journalism. News papers and
magazines fall under written journalism and are classified as
periodicals. Periodicals are publications released in regular
intervals: bi-monthly, monthly, weekly, etc.
A newspaper, compared to the magazine, prints more news and
has no special cover. Newspapers are printed in paper called
newsprint. News is printed all over the newspaper having the
hottest news in the front page.
A magazine, on the other hand, has a special cover and prints
less news but more human interest stories and features.
Magazines are printed in book paper and if ever a magazine

contains news, its brief, summarized and can only be found in


side pages.
Periodicals, journals, books, graphic media and brochures are
under print media. Radio falls under oral journalism and while
television, movies and documentaries are under oral-visual
journalism.
Radio and television are examples of broadcast media while
movies and documentaries are examples of film media.

ElementsofJournalism
Journalismsfirstobligationistothetruth

Gooddecisionmakingdependsonpeoplehavingreliable,
accuratefactsputinameaningfulcontext.Journalismdoes
notpursuetruthinanabsoluteorphilosophicalsense,but
inacapacitythatismoredowntoearth.
Alltruthseventhelawsofsciencearesubjectto
revision,butweoperatebytheminthemeantimebecause
theyarenecessaryandtheywork,KovachandRosenstiel
writeinthebook.Journalism,theycontinue,thusseeksa
practicalandfunctionalformoftruth.Itisnotthetruthin
theabsoluteorphilosophicalorscientificsensebutrathera
pursuitofthetruthsbywhichwecanoperateonadayto
daybasis.
Thisjournalistictruthisaprocessthatbeginswiththe
professionaldisciplineofassemblingandverifyingfacts.
Thenjournaliststrytoconveyafairandreliableaccountof
theirmeaning,subjecttofurtherinvestigation.
Journalistsshouldbeastransparentaspossibleabout
sourcesandmethodssoaudiencescanmaketheirown
assessmentoftheinformation.Eveninaworldof
expandingvoices,gettingitrightisthefoundationupon

whicheverythingelseisbuiltcontext,interpretation,
comment,criticism,analysisanddebate.Thelargertruth,
overtime,emergesfromthisforum.
Ascitizensencounteranevergreaterflowofdata,they
havemoreneednotlessforsuppliersofinformation
dedicatedtofindingandverifyingthenewsandputtingitin
context.

Itsfirstloyaltyistocitizens

Thepublisherofjournalismwhetheramediacorporation
answeringtoadvertisersandshareholdersorabloggerwith
hisownpersonalbeliefsandprioritiesmustshowan
ultimateallegiancetocitizens.Theymuststrivetoputthe
publicinterestandthetruthabovetheirownself
interestorassumptions.
Acommitmenttocitizensisanimpliedcovenantwiththe
audienceandafoundationofthejournalisticbusiness
modeljournalismprovidedwithoutfearorfavoris
perceivedtobemorevaluablethancontentfromother
informationsources.
Commitmenttocitizensalsomeansjournalismshouldseek
topresentarepresentativepictureofconstituentgroupsin
society.Ignoringcertaincitizenshastheeffectof
disenfranchisingthem.
Thetheoryunderlyingthemodernnewsindustryhasbeen
thebeliefthatcredibilitybuildsabroadandloyalaudience
andthateconomicsuccessfollowsinturn.Inthatregard,
thebusinesspeopleinanewsorganizationalsomust
nurturenotexploittheirallegiancetotheaudience
aheadofotherconsiderations.

Technologymaychangebuttrustwhenearnedand
nurturedwillendure.
Itsessenceisadisciplineofverification
Journalistsrelyonaprofessionaldisciplineforverifying
information.
Whilethereisnostandardizedcodeassuch,every
journalistusescertainmethodstoassessandtest
informationtogetitright.
Beingimpartialorneutralisnotacoreprincipalof
journalism.Becausethejournalistmustmakedecisions,he
orsheisnotandcannotbeobjective.Butjournalistic
methodsareobjective.
Whentheconceptofobjectivityoriginallyevolved,itdid
notimplythatjournalistswerefreeofbias.Itcalled,rather,
foraconsistentmethodoftestinginformationa
transparentapproachtoevidencepreciselysothat
personalandculturalbiaseswouldnotunderminethe
accuracyofthework.Themethodisobjective,notthe
journalist.
Seekingoutmultiplewitnesses,disclosingasmuchas
possibleaboutsources,oraskingvarioussidesfor
comment,allsignalsuchstandards.Thisdisciplineof
verificationiswhatseparatesjournalismfromotherforms
ofcommunicationsuchaspropaganda,advertising,fiction,
orentertainment.

Itspractitionersmustmaintainanindependence
fromthosetheycover
Independenceisacornerstoneofreliability.
Ononelevel,itmeansnotbecomingseducedbysources,

intimidatedbypower,orcompromisedbyselfinterest.On
adeeperlevelitspeakstoanindependenceofspiritandan
openmindednessandintellectualcuriositythathelpsthe
journalistseebeyondhisorherownclassoreconomic
status,race,ethnicity,religion,genderorego.
Journalisticindependence,writeKovachandRosenstiel,is
notneutrality.Whileeditorialistsandcommentatorsarenot
neutral,thesourceoftheircredibilityisstilltheiraccuracy,
intellectualfairnessandabilitytoinformnottheir
devotiontoacertaingrouporoutcome.Inour
independence,however,journalistsmustavoidstraying
intoarrogance,elitism,isolationornihilism.

Itmustserveasanindependentmonitorof
power

Journalismhasanunusualcapacitytoserveaswatchdog
overthosewhosepowerandpositionmostaffectcitizens.It
mayalsooffervoicetothevoiceless.Beinganindependent
monitorofpowermeanswatchingoverthepowerfulfew
insocietyonbehalfofthemanytoguardagainsttyranny,
KovachandRosenstielwrite.

Theearliestjournalistsfirmlyestablishedasa
coreprincipletheirresponsibilitytoexamine
unseencornersofsociety.
Thewatchdogroleisoftenmisunderstood,evenby
journalists,tomeanafflictthecomfortable.While
upsettingtheapplecartmaycertainlybearesultof
watchdogjournalism,theconceptasintroducedinthemid
1600swasfarlesscombative.Rather,itsoughttoredefine

theroleofthejournalistfromapassivestenographerto
moreacuriousobserverwhowouldsearchoutand
discoverthenews.
Thewatchdogrolealsomeansmorethansimply
monitoringgovernment.Theearliestjournalists,write
KovachandRosenstiel,firmlyestablishedasacore
principletheirresponsibilitytoexamineunseencornersof
society.Theworldtheychronicledcapturedthe
imaginationofalargelyuninformedsociety,creatingan
immediateandenthusiasticpopularfollowing.
Finally,thepurposeofthewatchdogextendsbeyond
simplymakingthemanagementandexecutionofpower
transparent,tomakingknownandunderstoodtheeffectsof
thatpower.Thisincludesreportingonsuccessesaswellas
failures.
Journalistshaveanobligationtoprotectthiswatchdog
freedombynotdemeaningitinfrivoloususeorexploiting
itforcommercialgain.

Itmustprovideaforumforpubliccriticismand
compromise

Thenewsmediaarecommoncarriersofpublicdiscussion,
andthisresponsibilityformsabasisforspecialprivileges
thatnewsandinformationprovidersreceivefrom
democraticsocieties.
Theseprivilegescaninvolvesubsidiesfordistributionor
researchanddevelopment(lowerpostalratesforprint,use
ofpublicspectrumbybroadcasters,developmentand
managementoftheInternet)tolawsprotectingcontentand
freespeech(copyright,libel,andshieldlaws).

Theseprivileges,however,arenotpreordainedor
perpetual.Rather,theyareconferredbecauseoftheneed
foranabundantsupplyofinformation.Theyarepredicated
ontheassumptionthatjournalismbecauseofits
principlesandpracticeswillsupplyasteadystreamof
higherqualitycontentthatcitizensandgovernmentwilluse
tomakebetterdecisions.
Traditionally,thiscovenanthasbeenbetweennews
organizationsandgovernment.Thenewformsofdigital
media,however,placearesponsibilityoneveryonewho
publishescontentwhetherforprofitorforpersonal
satisfactioninthepublicdomain.
Therawmaterialcastintothemarketplaceofideassustains
civicdialogueandservessocietybestwhenitconsistsof
verifiedinformationratherthanjustprejudiceand
supposition.
Journalismshouldalsoattempttofairlyrepresentvaried
viewpointsandinterestsinsocietyandtoplacethemin
contextratherthanhighlightonlytheconflictingfringesof
debate.Accuracyandtruthfulnessalsorequirethatthe
publicdiscussionnotneglectpointsofcommongroundor
instanceswhereproblemsarenotjustidentifiedbutalso
solved.
Journalism,then,ismorethanprovidinganoutletfor
discussionoraddingonesvoicetotheconversation.
Journalismcarrieswithitaresponsibilitytoimprovethe
qualityofdebatebyprovidingverifiedinformationand
intellectualrigor.Aforumwithoutregardforfactsfailsto
informanddegradesratherthanimprovesthequalityand

effectivenessofcitizendecisionmaking.

Itmuststrivetokeepthesignificantinteresting
andrelevant

Journalismisstorytellingwithapurpose.Itshoulddomore
thangatheranaudienceorcataloguetheimportant.Itmust
balancewhatreadersknowtheywantwithwhatthey
cannotanticipatebutneed.
WritingcoachesRoyPeterClarkandChipScanlan
describeeffectivenewswritingastheintersectionofcivic
clarity,theinformationcitizensneedtofunction,and
literarygrace,whichisthereportersstorytellingskillset.
Inotherwords,partofthejournalistsresponsibilityis
providinginformationinsuchawaypeoplewillbeinclined
tolisten.Journalistsmustthusstrivetomakethesignificant
interestingandrelevant.
Qualityismeasuredbothbyhowmuchaworkengagesits
audienceandenlightensit.Thismeansjournalistsmust
continuallyaskwhatinformationhasthemostvalueto
citizensandinwhatformpeoplearemostlikelyto
assimilateit.Whilejournalismshouldreachbeyondsuch
topicsasgovernmentandpublicsafety,journalism
overwhelmedbytriviaandfalsesignificancetrivializes
civicdialogueandultimatelypublicpolicy.

Itmustkeepthenewscomprehensiveand
proportional

Journalismisourmoderncartography.Itcreatesamapfor
citizenstonavigatesociety.
Aswithanymap,itsvaluedependsonacompletenessand

proportionalityinwhichthesignificantisgivengreater
visibilitythanthetrivial.
Keepingnewsinproportionisacornerstoneof
truthfulness.Inflatingeventsforsensation,neglecting
others,stereotyping,orbeingdisproportionatelynegative
allmakealessreliablemap.Themostcomprehensivemaps
includeallaffectedcommunities,notjustthosewith
attractivedemographics.Themostcompletestoriestake
intoaccountdiversebackgroundsandperspectives.
Thoughproportionandcomprehensivenessaresubjective,
theirambiguitydoesnotlessontheirsignificance.

Itspractitionersmustbeallowedtoexercise
theirpersonalconscience

Doingjournalism,whetherasaprofessionalwritingfora
newsorganizationorasanonlinecontributorinthepublic
space,involvesonesmoralcompassanddemandsa
personalsenseofethicsandresponsibility.
Becausenewsisimportant,thosewhoprovidenewshave
aresponsibilitytovoicetheirpersonalconscienceoutloud
andallowotherstodosoaswell.Theymustbewillingto
questiontheirownworkandtodifferwiththeworkof
othersiffairnessandaccuracydemandtheydoso.
Newsorganizationsdowelltonurturethisindependenceby
encouragingindividualstospeaktheirminds.Conversation
anddebatestimulatetheintellectualdiversityofmindsand
voicesnecessarytounderstandandaccuratelycoveran
increasinglydiversesociety.Havingadiversenewsroom
doeslittleifthosedifferentvoicesarenotspokenorheard.
Itsalsoamatterofselfinterest.Employeesencouragedto

raisetheirhandsmaysavethebossfromhimselfor
protectthenewsorganizationsreputationbypointingout
errors,flaggingimportantomissions,questioning
misguidedassumptions,orevenrevealingwrongdoing.
Havingasenseofethicsisperhapsmostimportantforthe
individualjournalistoronlinecontributor.
Increasingly,thosewhoproducethenewsworkin
isolation,whetherfromanewsroomcubicle,thesceneofa
story,ortheirhomeoffice.Theymayfiledirectlytothe
publicwithoutthesafetynetofediting,asecondsetof
eyes,orthecollaborationofothers.Whilecrowdsourcing
bytheaudiencemaycatchandcorrecterrorsor
misinformation,thereputationoftheauthorandthequality
ofpublicdialogueareneverthelessdamaged.

Citizens,too,haverightsandresponsibilities
whenitcomestothenews

Theaveragepersonnow,morethanever,workslikea
journalist.
Writingablogentry,commentingonasocialmediasite,
sendingatweet,orlikingapictureorpost,likely
involvesashorthandversionofthejournalisticprocess.
Onecomesacrossinformation,decideswhetherornotits
believable,assessesitsstrengthandweaknesses,
determinesifithasvaluetoothers,decideswhattoignore
andwhattopasson,choosesthebestwaytoshareit,and
thenhitsthesendbutton.
Thoughthisprocessmaytakeonlyafewmoments,its
essentiallywhatreportersdo.
Twothings,however,separatethisjournalisticlikeprocess

fromanendproductthatisjournalism.Thefirstis
motiveandintent.Thepurposeofjournalismistogive
peopletheinformationtheyneedtomakebetterdecisions
abouttheirlivesandsociety.Theseconddifferenceisthat
journalisminvolvestheconscious,systematicapplication
ofadisciplineofverificationtoproduceafunctional
truth,asopposedtosomethingthatismerelyinterestingor
informative.Yetwhiletheprocessiscritical,itstheend
productthestorybywhichjournalismisultimately
judged.
Today,whentheworldisawashininformationandnewsis
availableanytimeeverywhere,anewrelationshipisbeing
formedbetweenthesuppliersofjournalismandthepeople
whoconsumeit.
Thenewjournalistisnolongeragatekeeperwhodecides
whatthepublicshouldandshouldnotknow.The
individualisnowhisorherowncirculationmanagerand
editor.Toberelevant,journalistsmustnowverify
informationtheconsumeralreadyhasorislikelytofind
andthenhelpthemmakesenseofwhatitmeansandhow
theymightuseit.
Thus,writeKovachandRosenstiel,Thefirsttaskofthe
newjournalist/sensemakeristoverifywhatinformationis
reliableandthenorderitsopeoplecangraspitefficiently.
Apartofthisnewjournalisticresponsibilityistoprovide
citizenswiththetoolstheyneedtoextractknowledgefor
themselvesfromtheundifferentiatedfloodorrumor,
propaganda,gossip,fact,assertion,andallegationthe
communicationssystemnowproduces.

ImportantToolsofJournalism
Thepublicisexceptionallydiverse.Thoughpeoplemay
sharecertaincharacteristicsorbeliefs,theyhaveanuntold
varietyofconcernsandinterests.
Soanythingcanbenews.Butnoteverythingis
newsworthy.Journalismisaprocessinwhichareporter
usesverificationandstorytellingtomakeasubject
newsworthy.

Journalismasadisciplineofverification
Ajournalistsfirstjobistogetitright.Buthow?
Journalistsoftendescribetheessenceoftheirworkas
findingandpresentingthefactsandalsothetruthabout
thefacts.
Theyalsodescribeusingcertainmethodsawayof
workingwhichBillKovachandTomRosenstieldescribe
inTheElementsofJournalismasascientificlikeapproach
togettingthefactsandalsotherightfacts.
CalledtheDisciplineofVerification,itsintellectual
foundationrestsonthreecoreconceptstransparency,
humility,andoriginality.
Transparencymeansshowyourworksoreaderscandecide
forthemselveswhytheyshouldbelieveit.
Dontallowyouraudiencetobedeceivedbyactsof
omissiontellthemasmuchasyoucanaboutthestory
theyarereading.
Telltheaudiencewhatyouknowandwhatyoudont
know.Neverimplythatyouhavemoreknowledgethan
youactuallydo.

Telltheaudiencewhoyoursourcesare,howtheyareina
positiontoknowsomething,andwhattheirpotentialbiases
mightbe.
Transparencysignalsthejournalistsrespectforthe
audience.Itallowstheaudiencetojudgethevalidityofthe
information,theprocessbywhichitwassecuredandthe
motivesandbiasesofthejournalistprovidingit.
Thismakestransparencythebestprotectionagainsterrors
anddeceptionbysources.Ifthebestinformationa
journalisthascomesfromapotentiallybiasedsource,
namingthesourcewillrevealtotheaudiencethepossible
biasandmayinhibitthesourcefromattemptingto
deceiveyouaswell.
Thejournalistsjobistoprovideinformationinsuchaway
thatpeoplecanassessitandthenmakeuptheirownminds
whattothink.
Thisisthesameprinciplethatgovernsthescientific
method.Bygivingtheaudiencethebackgroundonhow
youarrivedatacertainconclusion,youallowthemto
replicatetheprocessforthemselves.
Humilitymeanskeepanopenmind.
Journalistsneedtokeepanopenmindnotonlyabout
whattheyhearbutalsoabouttheirownabilityto
understandwhatitmeans.Exercisehumility.Dont
assume.Avoidarroganceaboutyourknowledge.
Assumption,asaveteranbureauchiefonceputit,isthe
motherofallscrewups.
Journalistsneedtorecognizetheirownfallibilityandthe

limitationsoftheirknowledge.Theyshouldbeconscious
offalseomniscienceandavoidjustwritingaroundit.
Theyshouldacknowledgetothemselveswhattheyare
unsureof,oronlythinktheyunderstandandthencheckit
out.Thismakestheirjudgmentmorepreciseandtheir
reportingmoreincisive.
JackFuller,theauthor,novelist,editor,andnewspaper
executive,hassuggestedthatjournalistsneedtoshow
modestyintheirjudgmentaboutwhattheyknowand
howtheyknowit.
GregoryFavre,alongtimeeditorinSacramentoand
Chicago,sayshisruleissimple.DONOTPRINTONE
IOTABEYONDWHATYOUKNOW.
First,youhavetobehonestaboutwhatyouknow,versus
whatyouassumeyouknow,orthinkyouknow.Akeyway
toavoidmisrepresentingeventsisadisciplinedhonesty
aboutthelimitsofonesknowledgeandthepowerofones
perception.
Originalitymeansdoyourownwork.
Informationcanbeviewedasahierarchy.Atthetopisthe
workyouhavedoneyourself,reportingyoucandirectly
vouchfor.
Journalistssaythetimestheymostoftengotsomething
wrongwaswhentheytooksomethingfromsomebodyor
someplaceelseandfailedtocheckitthemselves
HierarchyofAccuracy
Somefacts,quotes,assertionsandcoloraremorereliable
thanothers.

Thestuffthatcomesfromaneyewitnessisbetterthanthat
whichissecondhand.
Thestuffthatyouknowforyourselfisbetterthanthestuff
someoneelsesupposedlycheckedout
AccordingtoMikeOreskeswhenhewasWashington
bureauchiefofTheNewYorkTimes,Bewareoftheidea
thatyouhavetopostastorybecauseitsoutthere
floatingaround.
Inasense,Oreskesissuggestingahierarchyof
verification.Atthetopofthatisthestuffyouhaveverified
yourselffromsourceswithdirectknowledgeand
theyarebetterthansourceswhodonothavedirect
knowledge.
HereisanexampleofDavidProtess,presidentofthe
ChicagoInnocenceProject,ofhismethodofverification
usingthehierarchyofaccuracyofinformation.
Youcancategorizetheinformationyoupossessinaseries
ofconcentriccircles.
Theinnermostcircleistheinformationyouknowfirst
hand.Yourestandingonthecornerandseeadumptruck
runastoplightandcrashintoabus.
Thenextcircleistheinformationyouhavesecondhand.
Yourehavingcoffeeatanoutdoorcafeandsomeoneruns
uptogethelp,sayingshejustsawatruckhitabus.
Theoutermostcircleistheinformationthatsthirdhand.
Youreinthenewsroomandgetacallfromsomeoneatthe
cafe,relayingnewsthattheyheardatruckhashitabus.
Mostoftheinformationjournalistsdealwithliesinthe

secondorthirdcircles.Butmostfactsarefoundthatwithin
thefirstinnermostcircle,usuallyfromaparticipant,an
eyewitnessorfromphysicalevidence.
Thisdoesnotmeantheclosestperspectiveisthemost
truthfuloreventhemostaccurate.Eyewitnessdescriptions
ofcrimesuspects,forexample,areoftenunreliable.Nor
doesembeddingajournalistwithaplatoonnecessarily
provideatruepictureofalargerwar.
Butfailingtofindandverifybasicfactsisequally
problematic.Badfactsproduceinaccurateassumptions.In
thehierarchyofinformation,astorythatrestsoninaccurate
assumptionswilleventuallycollapse.
Sowitheachconcentriccircleofinformationyoumove
outward,yourguardneedstobeeverhigherfor
verification.
Basically,itcomesdowntoahierarchyofinformation.In
termsoffacts,thestuffthatisclosesttoaneyewitness
accountisbetterthanthatwhichissecondhand.
Storytelling
Atitsmostbasiclevel,newsisafunctionofdistribution
newsorganizations(ormembersofthepublic)create
storiestopassonapieceofinformationtoreaders,viewers,
orlisteners.
Agoodstory,however,doesmorethaninformoramplify.
Itaddsvaluetothetopic.
TheElementsofJournalism,infact,describesjournalism
asstorytellingwithapurpose.
Creatingagoodstorymeansfindingandverifying

importantorinterestinginformationandthenpresentingit
inawaythatengagestheaudience.Goodstoriesarepartof
whatmakejournalismdifferent,andmorevaluable,than
othercontentinthemediauniverse.
Researchprovestwothingsaboutgoodstories:
Treatmenttrumpstopic.Howastoryistoldismore
importanttotheaudiencethanitstopic,whatitis
about.Thebeststoryisawelltoldtaleaboutsomethingthe
readerfeelsisrelevantorsignificant.
Thebeststoriesaremorecompleteandmore
comprehensive.Theycontainmoreverifiedinformation
frommoresourceswithmoreviewpointsand
expertise.Theyexhibitmoreenterprise,morereportorial
effort.
Herearesomeelementsofagoodstory:
Goodstoriesareimportantandinteresting
1. Unfreezetime.Peopleareactive,theyaredoingthings
haveyourstoriesshowthat.
2. Developcharacter.Toomuchjournalismfailsto
developcharacter.Thepeoplearecardboard,names
andfacesfitintoajournalistictemplate:the
investigatingofficer,theprotester,theconservative
Republican,theliberalDemocrat.Often,justalittle
morereportingcanprovidethekindsofdetailsthat
avoidstereotypesandprovideaninteresting
dimensiontothepeoplewhoinhabityourstories.
3. Telltheaudiencewhatitmeans.Thisismorethan
justdecodingthelatestzoningissuesorthetuition

increases.Tellyouraudiencewhytheworldworksthe
wayitdoes,whyacertaintrendishappening,whyan
eventisorisnttakingplace.Dontshyawayfrom
beinganauthenticatorthatprovidesclarity.
4. Proverelevancy.Readersviewthenewsthroughthe
lensoftheirlivesandfilterthecontentbasedontheir
interestsandconcerns.Thoughjournalistsmaythink,
infactmayknow,thatsomethingisnews,declaring
itsodoesntmakeittruetothenewsconsumer.
Relevancyshouldnotbeassumed.Weneedtoprove
it.
5. Experimentwithstorytelling.Thisismorethanjust
droppingthejournalistsfavoritecrutch,theinverted
pyramidandtellingstories.Thisisaboutthinkingof
storiesdifferently.Maybeagraphicormapisenough
totellthestory.Maybeaphotowilldothetrick.
Maybethecharactersthemselvescanwrite,orspeak,
intheirownwords.
6. UsetheWeb.UsetheWebtoenhancethepowerof
storytellingandmakethestorymorepersonaland
interactive.Videoandaudiomakethereaderan
eyewitness.Comments,forums,andother
crowdsourcingfeedbackallowcitizenstointeractwith
thenews.Mapshelpreadersseewhereanevent
occurredandalsotheirproximitytoit.Anda
calculatorallowsuserstotranslatebig,abstract,
numberstohisorherverypersonalsituation.

EngagingStoriesnotBoring

Onewaytoviewaboringstoryisasanissueofexcess.
Toolong,toorambling,toointotheweeds.
Theproblemwiththisapproachiswhatitimplies,that
merelycuttingdownandtighteningupatalewillfixit.
Often,however,thecentralweaknessofboringstoriesis
notlengthbuttheabsenceofelementscommontogood
storytelling.
Thismayreflectthereportersreluctancetomake
consciousdecisionsaboutthemostimportantelementsin
thestorythecentralpoint,centralevidence,central
characters,andthecentralplace.

Goodstoriesprovetheirrelevancetotheaudience
Peoplecaremostaboutthingsthataffectthem.
Ononelevel,therelevanceofastorycanbeafunctionof
geography.Thereaderismoreinterestedinhislocal
weatherforecastthanthenationaloutlook.
Adifferentkindofproximityinvolvesemotionsor
interests.Thereadermayidentifywitharangeoflife
experiences,fromtheemotionalshockoflosingajobor
worryingaboutasickchildtomundanetaskslikethe
weeklytriptothegrocerystoreorfillingthecarwithgas.
Readersalsoidentifywiththeirownspecialinterests,
whetherahobbyorsportoranimportantpocketbookissue
liketaxes,interestrates,schoolquality,crimeandsafety,
healthcare,oreconomicdevelopment.
Goodstoriesdontjustassumerelevancy;theyproveit.
Theymakethecasethat,youshouldtakethetimetoread
thisstorybecauseitspotentiallyimportanttoyou

personallyortoyourcommunity.Oftenthisisdoneby
illustrationorcomparison.
Theanecdote,however,helpsbridgethatgapbyoffering
moredetailspecificfacts,opinions,orexperiencesthe
readercancomparetohisownknowledgeandbeliefs.
Usingdataisanotherwaytoproverelevancy.An
alternativeistousetwostatisticsfromtheCensus.
Areportercanalsousemaps,calculators,andother
softwaretoestablishrelevance.
Finally,forastorythatisobviouslyrelevant,datacanserve
asanexclamationpoint.

Goodstorieshavestrongcentralcharacters

Humansarethemostinterestingcreaturesonearth.
Readers,inturn,aremostinterestedinotherpeople.Its
whytheheadshotanimageofapersonsfacehas
beenandremainsthemostpopulargenreofnews
photograph.
Oneapproachtodevelopingastrongcentralcharacteristo
thinkaboutwhatkindsofinformationcanmakeahead
shotacharacterinastorycomealive.
Wheninterviewingsomeone,givethemtheopportunityto
revealsomethingaboutthemselvesandtheircharacter:
Askwhattheyaredoing.Thenaskwhytheyaredoingit.
Askwhattheyarefeeling.Thenaskwhytheyfeelthatway.
Askwhattheythink.Thenaskwhytheybelievewhatthey
do.
Quotesaremerewords.Goodstories,however,capturethe
meaningbehindthewords.Thatsmorelikelytooccurif

thereaderknowsnotjustwhosspeakingbutsomething
aboutthepersonsbackgroundandcharacter.

Goodstoriesusedetail
Storiesbuiltonimportantorinterestingthemessupported
bysmallbutrevealingdetailaremorecompletebecause
theygivethereadermoretograbonto.
Usingdetailinastoryissimilartopresentingotherfacts.A
goodstoryisbuiltnotjustonfacts,butontherightfacts,
informationthatshedslightonthetruthaboutthefacts.
Goodstoriesreflectgoodchoicesor,asformernews
directorandPoynterfacultymemberScottLibinsays,
selectionratherthancompression.

Goodstoriesconnecttodeeperthemes
Thebeststoriesreachusonsomeelementallevel.
Lookforthestoryofwhythingshappenthewaytheydo
andthenlookforawaytotellthatstory.
Thinkingvisuallyaboutaniconicimageorabriefpicture
inthemindcanalsohelp.
Itsnotalwayseasytofindaniconicimagethatrepresents
thecoreofastory.Butthinkingvisually,imaginingan
imagethatmaybeordinarybutrepresentative,canhelpthe
journalistdecidewhattheessenceofthestoryis.
Theiconicimagecanalsohelpthejournalistfindideasfor
stories.Weseetheseimagesallthetimeinourdailylives
butoftendontaskourselveswhattheymightmean.
Constructioncranespunctuatingtheskyline,commutersat

abusstopallreadingtheirmobiledevices,piecesofre
treadtrucktireslitteringthesideofabusyhighway.What
questionsmighttheseimagesraise?
Thinkingvisuallyiswhatphotographersdoallthetime.
Thinkinglikeaphotographercanhelpjournalistsfocuson
thecoreofastoryastheynavigatetheirwaythroughthe
fogofdetailcollectedinthereportingprocess.

Goodstoriesexploretensions
Tensionmakeslife,andthenews,interesting.
Sometimesthetensionisbetweencharacters,forexample
twocandidatesvyingforapublicoffice.Ortensionsmay
ariseoverdifferentpointsofviewaboutanissueorevent.
Acentralcharactertryingtodecidewhattothinkordo
aboutsomethingisanexampleofaninternaltension.
Journaliststryingtocovertensionoftenfindthemselves
reportingontheextremes.
RichardHarwood,theresatension.Theresatensionin
schoolsbetweenexcellenceandopportunity.Theresa
tensionincommunitiesbetweenfurthergrowthtoincrease
thetaxbaseandprotectingthequalityoflife.Notthat
theyremutuallyexclusive.Buttheresatensionthere.And
weoftenpitchitasoneortheotherbutmostpeoplewant
toreachsomebalance.
Thechallengeforjournalists,saysHarwood,isto
understandtheessenceofastoryinordertochoosethe
mostappropriateframe.

Goodstoriescaptureemotions

Emotioncommandsattentionandcreatesarelevancyof
sharedfeelingsbetweenacharacterandthereader.
Yetthebalancebetweenemotionandnewsisdelicateand,
accordingtoprofessorandheadoftheDepartmentof
CommunicationattheUniversityofIllinoisatChicagoZizi
Papacharissi,journalistshavealwaysstruggledtomanage
theirownemotionsinthenameofobjectivityorfinding
appropriatewaystointegratesentimentintoastory.
Themostmasterfuljournalists,intheirmostmemorable
reporting,attainthisperfectbalancebetweenemotionand
information,colorandnews,theaffectiveandthe
cognitive.Bycontrast,theformofnewsreportingleast
memorableisfrequentlycharacterizedbyexcessive
emotion,andthemisinformationthatexcessproduces.
Whendescribingemotion,lessisusuallybest.Hyperbole
doesnotwork.Donttellthereaderhowtofeelor,except
inrareinstances,howyoufeel.Ashocking
developmentsays,ineffect,thatsomethingshould
surpriseordismay.Maybeitwill,butthatsuptothe
reader,notthereporter,todecide.
Ratherthantellthereaderhowtofeelorusethereporters
feelingsasaproxyforwhattheaudiencethinks,agood
storyoffersdetailthereadercanusetomakehisorherown
judgmentsand,perhaps,forgeanemotionalconnection
withacharacter.

Goodstoriesprovidecontext
Whatbackgroundwouldanewcomerwhoisaffectedby
thestoryneedtoknowsothattheymightcareaboutit?

Anothervirtueofaskingwhatdoesmyaudienceneedto
know?isthatitcancreatenewentrypointsintostories
suchasasking,whatbackgroundwouldanewcomerwhois
affected,orhasastakeinthestory,needtoknowsothat
theymightcareaboutit?
Andthejournalistneedstofigureouthowtoprovidea
contextoutsideofentertainmentthatworks.
Listen,thereisahungerforgoodinformationoutthere.
TheBestandtheBrightestwasahugebestseller,muchto
thesurpriseoftheauthorandtheeditorwhopublishedit,
becauseittookallthosepeoplewhohadflashedonthe
televisionscreenallthosetimes,andfinallysaid,Thisis
whotheyare.Andthisishowtheyaffectyou.Andthisis
whattheymeantoyou.

Goodstoriessurprisethereader
Surpriseinanewsstorycantakeacoupleofforms,
informationyoudidntknoworsomethingyoudidnt
expect.
Flippingthroughanewspaperandseeinganitemyouhad
noideayoudwanttoreadisanexampleofserendipity,a
happycoincidence.

Goodstoriesempowerthereader
Thepurposeofjournalismistogivepeopletheinformation
theyneedtomakebetterdecisions.Inotherwords,
journalismissupposedtoempower.
Thisdefinitionimpliesthatwhilejournalistscertainly
inform,thereisanassumptionthereaderwillsooneror

laterusetheinformationtomakeadecisionorengagein
somekindofactivity.
Empoweringthereaderthusinvolvesanticipatinghowthe
informationmightbeusedandwhatquestionsthereader
mighthaveabouttheissueorevent.
Sometypes/genres/formsofJournalism

Advocacy journalism is a genre of journalism that intentionally and


transparently adopts a non-objective viewpoint, usually for some
social or political purpose. Because it is intended to be factual, it is
distinguished from propaganda. It is also distinct from instances of
media bias and failures of objectivity in media outlets, since the bias
is intended.
Traditionally, advocacy and criticism are restricted to editorial and oped pages, which are clearly distinguished in the publication and in the
organization's internal structure. News reports are intended to be
objective and unbiased. In contrast, advocacy journalists have an
opinion about the story they are writing. For example, that political
corruption should be punished, that more environmentally friendly
practices should be adopted by consumers, or that a government
policy will be harmful to business interests and should not be
adopted. This may be evident in small ways, such as tone or facial
expression, or large ways, such as the selection of facts and opinions
presented.
Some advocacy journalists reject that the traditional ideal of
objectivity is possible in practice, either generally, or due to the
presence of corporate sponsors in advertising. Some feel that the
public interest is better served by a diversity of media outlets with a
variety of transparent points of view, or that advocacy journalism
serves a similar role to muckrakers or whistleblowers.

Broadcast journalism is the field of news and journals which are


"broadcast", that is, published by electrical methods instead of the
older methods, such as printed newspapers and posters. Broadcast
methods include radio (via air, cable, and Internet), television (via air,
cable, and Internet) and the World Wide Web. Such media disperse
pictures (static and moving), visual text and sounds.
Scripts for broadcast tend to be written differently from text to be read
by the public. For instance, the former is generally less complex and
more conversational. Radio and television are designed to be seen
and heard sooner and more often than a daily or weekly newspaper.
The concept of citizen journalism (also known as "public",
"participatory", "democratic",[1] "guerrilla"[2] or "street" journalism[3])
is based upon public citizens "playing an active role in the process of
collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and
information."[4] Similarly, Courtney C. Radsch defines citizen
journalism "as an alternative and activist form of newsgathering and
reporting that functions outside mainstream media institutions, often
as a response to shortcomings in the professional journalistic field,
that uses similar journalistic practices but is driven by different
objectives and ideals and relies on alternative sources of legitimacy
than traditional or mainstream journalism".[5] Jay Rosen proposes a
simpler definition: "When the people formerly known as the audience
employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one
another."[6]
Citizen journalism is not to be confused with community journalism or
civic journalism, both of which are practiced by professional
journalists. Collaborative journalism is also a separate concept and is
the practice of professional and non-professional journalists working
together.[7] Similarly, Social Journalism is a separate concept denoting
a digital publication with a hybrid of professional and non-professional
journalism. Citizen journalism is a specific form of both citizen media

and user-generated content. By juxtaposing the term "citizen", with its


attendant qualities of civic-mindedness and social responsibility, with
that of "journalism", which refers to a particular profession, Courtney
C. Radsch argues that this term best describes this particular form of
online and digital journalism conducted by amateurs, because it
underscores the link between the practice of journalism and its
relation to the political and public sphere. [8]
New media technology, such as social networking and media-sharing
websites, in addition to the increasing prevalence of cellular
telephones, have made citizen journalism more accessible to people
worldwide. Due to the availability of technology, citizens often can
report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters.
Notable examples of citizen journalism reporting from major world
events are, the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Arab Spring, the Occupy
Wall Street movement, the 2013 protests in Turkey, the Euromaidan
events in Ukraine, and Syrian Civil War and the 2014 Ferguson
unrest.
Critics of the phenomenon, including professional journalists[who?], claim
that citizen journalism is unregulated, too subjective, amateur, and
haphazard in quality and coverage.
Data journalism is a journalism specialty reflecting the increased
role that numerical data is used in the production and distribution of
information in the digital era. It reflects the increased interaction
between content producers (journalist) and several other fields such
as design, computer science and statistics. From the point of view of
journalists, it represents "an overlapping set of competencies drawn
from disparate fields".
Data journalism has been widely used to unite several concepts and
link them to journalism. Some see these as levels or stages leading
from the simpler to the more complex uses of new technologies in the
journalistic process.

Designers are not always part of the process. According to author


and data journalism trainer Henk van Ess,[3] "Data journalism can be
based on any data that has to be processed first with tools before a
relevant story is possible. It doesn't include visualisation per se".

Drone Journalism
Form of Journalism that uses drones to produce and process
information by policing, surveillance and aerial photography.
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone,
as an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or by several other names,
is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. The flight of UAVs may
operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote
control by a human operator, or fully or intermittently autonomously,
by onboard computers.[1]
Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without
claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story
via a first-person narrative. The word "gonzo" is believed to have
been first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson,
who later popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person
participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it
draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. [1]
It has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors.
Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy that concerns the
reporting of personal experiences and emotions, in contrast to
traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on
facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties. Gonzo
journalism disregards the strictly-edited product favored by
newspaper media and strives for a more personal approach; the
personality of a piece is as important as the event the piece is on.
Use of sarcasm, humor, exaggeration, and profanity is common.

Interactive journalism is a new type of journalism that allows


consumers to directly contribute to the story. Through Web 2.0
technology, reporters can develop a conversation with the audience. [1]
The digital age has changed how people collect information.
Newspapers, once the only source for news, have seen declines in
circulation as people get news on the Internet for free.
In an attempt to continue exercising their role as communicators,
many traditional media outlets have adopted different convergence
strategies. News outlets have submerged into technology
convergence. This is exemplified by how newspapers have leaned
towards not only producing print content, but are also utilizing video,
graphics, sound clips and social media in their reporting process.
Interactive journalism allows media outlets to include convergence
with citizens, the public, as well.[3]
Interactive journalism has developed as an effort to redefine and
reengage the audience. It has the potential to redefine news, allowing
the consumer to determine what has news value.
Interactive journalism is similar, but not identical, to collaborative
journalism, in which rather than converse with the reporter, individual
reporters without affiliation to the parent organization contribute and
provide news items and reports.
One of the most popular interactive journalism tools are blogs, which
allow grassroot news to be developed by eyewitnesses or those with
expertise or interest in a particular subject area. Bloggers often cite
and link to mainstream news articles and mainstream journalists often
get story ideas from blogs they monitor. The blog format allows
readers to add further information or corrections.
Interactive journalism is often associated with civic journalism for its
ability to explore new and creative ways to amplify community
conversation with the idea of solving public problems.

Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters


deeply investigate a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes,
political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing.
Investigative journalism is a primary source of information. Most
investigative journalism is conducted by newspapers, wire services,
and freelance journalists. Practitioners sometimes use the term
"accountability reporting".
An investigative reporter may make use of one or more of these tools,
among others, on a single story:
Analysis of documents, such as lawsuits and other legal documents,
tax records, government reports, regulatory reports, and corporate
financial filings
Databases of public records
Investigation of technical issues, including scrutiny of government and
business practices and their effects
Research into social and legal issues
Subscription research sources
Numerous interviews with on-the-record sources as well as, in some
instances, interviews with anonymous sources (for example
whistleblowers)
Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting,
editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast)
that employs images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually
understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term
also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is
distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g.,
documentary photography, social documentary photography, street
photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid
ethical framework which demands that the work be both honest and
impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms.
Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media

Timeliness
The images have meaning in the context of a recently published
record of events.
Objectivity
The situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate
representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.
Narrative
The images combine with other news elements to make facts
relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level.
Like a writer, a photojournalist is a reporter, but he or she must often
make decisions instantly and carry photographic equipment, often
while exposed to significant obstacles (e.g., physical danger, weather,
crowds, physical access).
Sensor journalism[1] refers to the use of sensors to generate or
collect data, then analyzing, visualizing, or using the data to support
journalistic inquiry. This is related to but distinct from data journalism.
Whereas data journalism relies on using historical or existing data,
sensor journalism involves the creation of data with sensor tools. This
also includes drone journalism.
Tabloid journalism is a style of journalism that emphasizes
sensational crime stories, gossip columns about celebrities and
sports stars, junk food news and astrology. Although it is associated
with tabloid-size newspapers, not all newspapers associated with
tabloid journalism are tabloid size, and not all tabloid-size
newspapers engage in tabloid journalism.
Tabloid journalism often concerns itself with the private lives of
celebrities, including their sexual practices and drug use. In many
cases, celebrities have successfully sued for libel, demonstrating that
tabloid stories have defamed them

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that


presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses
eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. [1] Techniques may
include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or
sensationalism.[1] By extension, the term yellow journalism is used
today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an
unprofessional or unethical fashion.[2]

Ambush journalism refers to aggressive tactics practiced by


journalists to suddenly confront and question people who otherwise
do not wish to speak to a journalist, in places such as homes,
vacation spots, hallways, and parking lots.

Celebrity journalism focused on celebrities and feeds off


television soap operas, reality television, members of royal families,
and the like. This type of reporting is associated with the tabloid press
and the "ancillary industries of intrusive paparazzi and lucrative tipoffs.

Convergence Journalism
An emerging form of journalism, which combines different forms of
journalism, such as print, photographic and video, into one piece or
group of pieces. Convergence journalism can be found in the likes of
CNN and many other news sites.

News Journalism was the name given to a style of 1960s and


1970s news writing and journalism that used literary techniques
deemed unconventional at the time. The term was codified with its
current meaning by Tom Wolfe in a 1973 collection of journalism
articles.

It is typified by using certain devices of literary fiction, such as


conversational speech, first-person point of view, recording everyday
details and telling the story using scenes. Though it seems
undisciplined at first, new journalism maintains elements of reporting
including strict adherence to factual accuracy and the writer being the
primary source. To get "inside the head" of a character, the journalist
asks the subject what they were thinking or how they felt.
Because of its unorthodox style, new journalism is typically employed
in feature writing or book-length reporting projects.
Many new journalists are also writers of fiction and prose.
Science Journalism
Science journalists must understand and interpret very detailed,
technical and sometimes jargon-laden information and render it into
interesting reports that are comprehensible to consumers of news
media.
Scientific journalists also must choose which developments in science
merit news coverage, as well as cover disputes within the scientific
community with a balance of fairness to both sides but also with a
devotion to the facts. Science journalism has frequently been
criticized for exaggerating the degree of dissent within the scientific
community on topics such as global warming,[12] and for conveying
speculation as fact.[13]
Sports journalism covers many aspects of human athletic
competition, and is an integral part of most journalism products,
including newspapers, magazines, and radio and television news
broadcasts. While some critics don't consider sports journalism true
journalism, the prominence of sports in Western culture has justified
the attention of journalists to not just the competitive events in sports,
but also to athletes and the business of sports.
Sports journalism in the United States has traditionally been written in
a looser, more creative and more opinionated tone than traditional

journalistic writing; the emphasis on accuracy and underlying fairness


is still a part of sports journalism. An emphasis on the accurate
description of the statistical performances of athletes is also an
important part of sports journalism.

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