Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Journalists Messed Up Journalism?

A WRITER AT the Daily Californian, the student paper at the University of California, Berkeley, says that the problems currently facing journalism are the responsibility of journalists.

"It’s our fault," he writes. "Our job was to report the news, and we did that. But we got complacent, and we stopped evolving, and soon the concept of a news article became far removed from what you, as a person, valued."

He argues that journalists have focused on drawing eyes to their outlets by running stories about puppies and celebrities, often at the cost of the "the important part of journalism."

He writes:

Journalism isn’t a business, and a news article isn’t a product. Sure, advertising is a business, and it has been so intertwined with newspapers over the last century that it’s hard to think of journalism without advertising. But journalism isn’t advertising.

Journalism also isn’t about putting out a newspaper every day or every week or every second, if that were possible. That’s just a means to an end.

What is that end? Transparency and accountability: the free-flow of information required to keep democracy alive. Journalism is about informing people so individuals can make active, smart decisions about the world they live in and improve society as a whole.


The commenters either cheer on the writer, or say that he is idealistic and naive.

What do you think?

Is it enough these days to go out there and do important, relevant journalism? Or do we need to be aware of what will attract an audience?

11 comments:

Rosella Eleanor said...

I think there's got to be a balance. When I spoke to Lori Wilson, of NBC 10, for the cover of my magazine, she said that she defines news as what people are talking about. I think journalists have two roles: one as reactor, providing coverage of things people are already talking about, and the second as instigator or initiator, providing content that sparks a debate or conversation that doesn't, but should, exist. Journalism cannot be ideal because we do not live in an ideal world. When has it ever been ideal?

Rosella
M.L.T.S. Magazine
mltsmag.com

Rita Kraynak said...

I feel that yes, today it is important to report the news that's important and relevant to the current happenings in the nation and world. However, I don't believe that it is enough.

I think one of the most important things in journalism is knowing what's going to attract an audience because that will, in turn, provide more exposure to your news station, blog, magazine, etc.

For example, if a journalist was going to write an article about the wildfires in Texas right now, that would be both important and relevant. However, most journalists have already done that. In order for that story to gain more readers/viewers than another competitor, that journalist might want to look deeper into the story. Maybe find something that might be so upsetting that will give people a greater emotional attachment to the people in Texas. Or, if there's something with a celebrity and trying to raise money for the devastation, that will surely grab readers' attention.

I believe that in journalism today, it's extremely important to report the news but with extra thought into what's going to bring the greatest amount of people to that specific article.

Brittany T. said...

I believe this student has a valid point. Journalist have the responsibility to report important news to the masses. In some cases, a journalist is the only person we can rely on to recieve certain information. However, in recent years, rating and sales of tv news as well as newpapers show that the people aren't just interested in what they NEED to know, but also what they WANT to know.

News about who Jennifer Aniston is dating or the sex of Beyonce's baby is interesting to many people. Why? Because these are people we may never be able to meet nor have a long enough conversation with to find out. The stories about celebrities are great conversation starters and they guarantee sales/viewers.

Journalists themselves have not "ruined" journalism. There is still vital information being reported. It's just that now, more entertain news in being incorporated to attract a wide variety of readers. Society is changing and new technology is evolving every day. As journalist, we must be able to conform with these changes as they happen.

The fact that important news and entertain news can coexist shows journalists are still maintain their duty to inform and satisfy the viewers.

David Allen said...

I disagree with the thoughts of this student. I believe that the changes in journalism are almost solely due to consumers. The importance of a story is relative to the person who is reading it, and if a journalist writes an "important" story that no one else finds important then he/she is not doing his/her job. Consumers control the market in this country, that is a fact, and you cannot be a successful journalist if you do not appeal to the people who control your business. There has to be a balance of stories reported, and that balance is found by knowing what consumers find important.

Alexis Wilkinson said...

I think that it is important to report the hard news, but there is a need to add stories that will draw the reader in and entertain them. We have discussed in class that journalism is a business and we are working to sell what we are reporting about, so I would have to disagree with the writer when he states journalism is not a business. This goes back to what we discussed in class about what makes a cover story of a paper. Sometimes what is on the cover might not be considered hard news, but it is what will sell the paper.

Courtney K Fox said...

I think that if the subject matter is relevant to today's news than its relevant journalism. Journalists are supposed to report the news that people want to hear about, no matter what it may be. People enjoy stories on celebrities, violent weather, major sports, and politics. If that is what people enjoy, it is the responsibility of the journalist to report on that subject. Essentially, journalism needs to be a balance of attracting the audience and reporting relevant stories that will provide valuable information

the Giant Stevens said...

you can be an idealist, but stay consistent and true to the ideal; moreover, never forget the 'it' in this life which you cover---beat or not

Sophia Abdelsalam said...

I Believe that it is all about a healthy balance. People crave the "fluff" news as well as the hard news, and it is our job as journalists to give them both. Who are we to say whether certain news is more relevant or important than other news. Some people want to know the current economic situation of our country just as badly as when Beyonce's baby is due, and theres nothing wrong with that! These stories all make up the world we live in, no matter how trivial some might seem.

Liz Howard said...

While this student is right, journalism is meant to inform the public, I think media and the news would become really depressing if every story was modeled in the way he defines it. Have you ever sat and watched the news for an hour or so? After a while, you notice that all of the stories are about this abduction or that shooting, and it can really begin to weigh down on you. However, when they throw in a silly video clip, it breaks up the sad news stories and offers the viewers a kind of decompression period. Even Shakespeare knew that he needed to add clowns and drunken old men to his tragic productions! Comic relief is important, even for journalism.

MichelleSaYa said...

I agree with him half way. It is the journalists fault but ALSO the citizens fault. The citizens became complacent also and didn't take much action about what they disagreed with or started mistrusting.

Also, I so wish that journalism wasn't a business, but we live in a world with a money system that makes it very hard for you to live without money. Since money is so necessary for life, and it takes time to be a good journalist, it is necessary to be compensated for the work you do... but where does that compensation come from?

Nick said...

I disagree with the thoughts of this student. I believe that the changes in journalism are almost solely due to consumers. The importance of a story is relative to the person who is reading it, and if a journalist writes an "important" story that no one else finds important then he/she is not doing his/her job. Consumers control the market in this country, that is a fact, and you cannot be a successful journalist if you do not appeal to the people who control your business. There has to be a balance of stories reported, and that balance is found by knowing what consumers find important.