At the beginning of this semester, I wrote about my opinions on who passed as a journalist. Over the course of the semester, however, my ideas were shaped and formed into a new opinion. I claimed that everyone was a journalist; that anyone who produced words could be considered a journalist. I do not necessarily agree with this anymore. Although I do believe that more than just those with press passes are journalists, I do believe there is a line that must be drawn. Finding that line is the hard part, but whether it is tangible or not, the line must exist.
In this article, it points out that journalists abide by a certain set of rules and regulations that help guide and sometimes restrict the things that are produced by professional journalists. Although there are many who do not have a degree or a professional position as a journalist, there are some that produce material that is sometimes equal if not above par than that of an official journalist. Yet, they follow their own rules and have no obligation to meet any deadlines nor guidelines. I think that principle defines the largest and most significant difference between journalists and those who write; it is the line between those things that determines who really is a journalist.
This article from the Times argues this point saying that we need a broader definition of “journalist”. They emphasize the statement that “some of the best journalists haven’t had any academic training in the field.” They use the First Amendment to support this idea saying that it is not just for journalists but for everyone in America. While I do agree with them in some areas, I still hold my ground by saying that there is a fine line that separates journalists from American people writing on blogs.
After this verdict created great controversy, they decided that they must decide who a journalist is. I believe it is important to already have that definition and description set in concrete so we can be prepared in situations such as the Crystal Cox controversy. That line must exist. That line is what helps us decide who is a journalist.
As journalist’s, it is sometimes hard to be interesting. Especially when what the material you have to work with is about as interesting as dirt. But, we have an obligation and responsibility to make the significant interesting and relevant. So, how the heck do we do that? How do we find a way to make news seem relevant to the majority of our audience? I think this is a difficult task, and Group 12 seems to agree with me. It seems difficult to be both engaging AND relevant because of bias, laziness, or haste. To be a good journalist, it is important to not be lazy and learn how to use good technique in a quick amount of time. Those who work hard and put forth the effort will definitely succeed with engaging and relevant material.
Just because you’re trying to make something interesting, however, doesn’t mean you need to jump off a cliff and sail the seven seas with the story though. The story is the story, the facts don’t change. The material is what you have to work with, and it remains. The style you use and the words which you choose to present the story with, however, can make your story one million times more interesting. It’s just important to remember that, “technique should never alter the facts.”
They say that “journalism is storytelling with a purpose,” and we must find a way for that purpose to carry across our audience. We must make the story and purpose appear to be so important that we couldn’t afford to leave it out of the news. This article challenges the above statement, and they discuss why journalism is moving away from storytelling in our day today. The Nieman Reports had an interesting bit on making the significant interesting. They talked about how storytelling and information do not contradict each other. They talk about the two biggest struggles of making things interesting and they are: first, finding the information that people need in their lives. And second, making that information engaging and relevant. This blog also illustrates very nicely how important it is to make your stories have a purpose, and that is one of the keys to becoming and staying a good journalist.
I thought Group 11 brought an interesting idea to the table with their question, “As journalists, are we supposed to give people what they want, or what they need?” As we texted in our answers, I found it really surprising to read the responses people were sending in. A lot of people said both, which was the answer in my brain, but I still thought it was interesting. What if we had to choose one or the other? What if both wasn’t an option? What if we had to write based on what the people wanted OR based on what people needed to hear? The problem with that is that people have very definition of needs and wants. What our class ended up deciding and discussing is that Journalism is the ability to find the happy medium and be able to write for both needs and wants. I feel that both are essential in balancing out journalism and keeping a consistent audience.
A Community Media Workshop tested out the difference between need and want by trying to write an article that combined both terms to find the perfect balance for readers. They called it the “New News”. They brought up the sixth sense we must have as journalists, which is the ability to ask so what? This was cool because it brought my attention to the fact that so what, need, and want were all kind of related. The so what? applies to anyone and everyone watching, listening to, or reading the news. It is the big idea, why it matters, and why we should care. Those are also why we pay attention to things that we both need and want, so we can fulfill our curiosity and find satisfaction in the big idea.
In this future of the media blog, they give a biased opinion that we should give the people what they need. They state that the most important priority should be giving people what they need to hear; things that are relevant in their lives. They had strong points, but I still believe it is important to have a mixture of both. When you don’t present both needs and wants, someone will always be frustrated. Giv the people important information that is going on, but also give them things that will keep them loyal viewers. This doesn’t mean that journalism has to become entertainment, it just means that usually, most people can’t handle straight need. This point is illustrated well on this social media blog where the author talks about how celebrities are turning news journalism into entertainment journalism.
Overall, it is important to remember to give the people a little of their needs, and a little of their wants.