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May 6, 2007

The Journalistic Mission and Future

I think journalism’s mission of providing information to the public is very noble and important. I learned how important it is to provide information to the public when I wrote my very first story. I had just joined the newspaper staff my junior year in high school and I was assigned to cover the teacher’s contract negotiations. It was a little daunting having to interview the school board president, the superintendent, mediators, and teachers about this sensitive issue and the superintendent didn’t even want to talk to me, but I thought it was really neat that I could inform the whole school about this issue because the teachers ended up going on strike for three weeks. The strike had a huge impact on all of us and the students deserved to know what was going on so I was really pleased that my article helped the students at my school to understand how the contracts were set up, why the teachers went on strike, what their demands were, and how the process of mediation works.

I really like that journalists can combine their love of writing with other interests that a journalist finds important. For instance, I love animals so I enjoy writing about any issue related to them, and I’m minoring in film studies because I love studying film, television, and cultural studies. Obviously hard news stories are very important, but I think a journalist can ask tough questions and uncover important information with any topic. Also, people should be able to get information on anything they find interesting and important to them. For instance, I want to be a film critic and/ or an entertainment reporter. I’m not talking about Britney shaving her head, but I think that there are important issues like payola, Don Imus and the issue of freedom of speech, and how social and cultural issues like 9/11 and the war in Iraq are reflected in film to name a few. Also, I think interpreting films and discovering how filmmakers visually convey a message or begin a dialogue on issues in society are very important to address because films and the entertainment industry are such a huge part of American culture and people are greatly affected by them. Also, I do just find it enjoyable to read profiles on my favorite actors and directors and to read about films and television because it’s interesting and important to me.

Also, I think it’s important for journalists to provide the public with information that they may not even know about. For instance, most of my friends did not even know what a puppy mill even is, so I was pleased that my final feature explained something very important and brought awareness to puppy mills. I have my bias with puppy mills because personally I think they are awful and incredibly inhumane, but I think journalism’s mission to be objective is very noble and fair because a lot of people may not think puppy mills are bad and I wouldn’t want to expect people to agree with me. However, I respect the mission of giving the public information because that way at least the issue of puppy mills for instance is made known and the information is out there so people can take that information and make their own decisions.

I really agree with what Pat Kessler said about how journalists shouldn’t just simply report both sides of the issue, but they should also try to find the truth in the issue and report who’s not telling the truth. I think that’s really important because even though it’s obviously fair to be balanced, people shouldn’t be misled by someone who’s outright lying or misrepresenting something. However, I think that’s actually kind of risky for the journalist because some issues may be hard to uncover the truth or to find a neutral institution that can provide numbers or statistics, and I wouldn’t want to accidentally mislead the public.

I think that in the future journalism will change because I think people are going to read and watch the news online a lot more than they do now. Just like how people watch tv shows online, I think news stations are going to start posting their entire show online (maybe they already do, but I think they just have certain clips online right now…). I also think people are going to be reading the news online a lot more than they read an actual paper. Therefore, I think journalists are going to become more well-known and famous because people all across the country can be reading journalists’ articles and columns. I also think bloggers will become more popular. I think that some bloggers can find important information that professional news outlets aren’t getting, but for the most part I don’t really like bloggers because I wouldn’t want the public to get confused and think blogs are actually real articles. Therefore, I think there should be some sort of ethical guidelines for bloggers where they should make it very clear that they are not professional journalists and they should cite their sources.