Shedding Your Colors.

One of my favorite topics of Group 3’s discussion was the idea of cultural immersion. They talked about the possibility of shedding your original culture and how if journalists were able to “shed”, it would (or maybe would not) help with the objectivity in journalism.

Another thing that caught my attention was the statement, “the Priesthood of Journalism.” It was interesting to discuss what this meant and the four aspects listed under the umbrella term of the Priesthood of Journalism. First, Journalism as the Fourth Estate. Meaning that journalism is the unofficial fourth check of the government. Second, journalistic inbreeding. This term is pretty self-explanatory and I have noticed it quite a bit in the world of journalism. It is the ethics, norms, and expertise learned through other journalists and areas in your field. Third, separation. Always remaining objective about the story, regardless of history or circumstance, and I would like to add culture.

I think that culture definitely applies to us here at BYU because we are part of a large culture, also known as a “bubble”, that we live in. I was raised in Utah County and personally feel that I have been part of this culture my entire life. It is no longer my culture, but it is now me. So the question is, how am I to shed me and who I am? Is it possible? As a journalist who must try with all her might to remain objective, is it possible to shed her culture? That is the real test. I was curious to see what some synonyms for the word “shed” were and this is what I found: to cast, drop, reject, or emit. These were just the most applicable ones to me. You can find the rest here. To finish off the aspects, we have confidentiality. This is honoring people’s wishes to remain anonymous. There is a great article found here that talks about the two different sides of detractors and defenders on anonymity. It debates the issue of telling important stories versus damaging the credibility. This article is also insightful as it talks about the ethics behind being loyal to your anonymous sources.

This presentation by Group 3 was very well done, as I have been thinking bout cultural immersion and objectivity all week.

 

Be Loyal

Loyalty. A seven-lettered word that’s meaning is bigger than the word. I really enjoyed the presentation Group 2 gave on loyalty. Some of the concepts and principles brought up kept me thinking and had me really wondering what loyalty is, especially in journalism. When I looked up the definition of loyalty, I found this: a strong feeling of support or allegiance. This leads me to think that not only is the word loyalty a noun, but it is also a verb. Being loyal is an action. We can’t simply say that we are loyal without taking any action. Through our writing, we must show that we are loyal, or supportive, of our audience. It means that we must show faithfulness, commitment, and obligation to our readers.

Group 2 talked about the Watergate scandal and where the loyalty lied in that situation. After that occurrence, journalism became more subjective and judgmental. A great clip on journalism and the Watergate scandal is shown here.

Journalist’s within an organization have many obligations and people to answer to. Amidst all of that, however, we must remember that our allegiance remains to the citizens. The larger public interest is of great importance. By showing such consistent loyalty to the citizens, we prove ourselves and strengthen our reputation by showing them that we are credible and accurate. Through our loyalty, we show that our facts and information aren’t slanted, biased, or influenced. It is important to be credible because our credibility builds a loyal, broad audience. This audience, so long as you remain loyal back to them and verify your facts, will continue coming back. In turn, the audience will continue to grow in size and variety. It is important that we nurture our loyalty to the citizens. I learned a great deal about this from this site.

In an article by Nieman Reports, I learned that what we call loyalty to the citizens has come to be known by the term of journalistic independence. This is the idea that as journalist’s have tried to win over the loyalty from its audience, that the journalist slowly gains independence. It’s an interesting concept that you can read more about here.

 

Tell the Truth.

The fact of the matter is, journalism and truth should go hand in hand. Unfortunately though, that is not always the case in the world of journalism, especially in this day. As Group 1 presented, the question that kept coming back to my mind was how does truth actually apply to journalism? We know that it is important, vital even, so how do we actually make the two coincide? I have been thinking about this question and this is what I have come up with.

We know that journalism’s first obligation is to the truth. We MUST tell the truth. If we don’t, there are big consequences to pay. Jayson Blair, an ex-writer for the New York Times, demonstrated this principle very well. In 2003, Blair destroyed his own career when he was caught fabricating all of the stories he had written and published for the Times. The consequences were ruthless. Blair was not only fired from the Times, but lost his reputation completely. He has not been able to find a job in the field since. The full story on the Jayson Blair affair is found here.

Those we write for depend on accurate, reliable facts. We build our reputations as journalists in the field by consistently showing accuracy and reliability. Our loyalty is to the citizens, and therefore we must provide them with facts that have been checked, double-checked, and re-checked. We must verify the facts and sources to make sure we are getting the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This principle of journalism is well illustrated at this site.

I believe a statement that Group 1 made: people have lost the truth in journalism. We see it all around us, that the truth is slowly slipping away. It is very interesting to see what the definition of truth means to different people. Its meaning can get very muddled and fuzzy, and I believe that is a large reason we are losing so much of the truth. This article talks a lot about why we are losing truth today.

And So, We Wrote

Think about how many words you speak in a day. Or the amount of words you type or write. Our world revolves around words, whether printed, spoken, or listened to. Contrary to popular conception, a journalist does more than put black words on a white paper. Journalism is a lot less monotone than expected. Read on, you could find yourself described as a journalist.

Speaking for myself, I would say that I can speak faster than the speed of light. Well, it’s debatable. But I can talk your ear off, to say the least. I think about how many pieces of information I convey in a single day. It overwhelms me! Our own personal little lives are swarmed with information by the second. People convey information like a factory spits out car parts. And the ability to convey is pretty vital for a journalist. In my humble opinion, anyone who can convey information in an honest way can be considered a journalist. This is a flattering thing to be considered! Journalists do a lot of good in this word-swamped world. One of my favorite parts of writing is giving a voice to the voiceless. Doesn’t that give you goosebumps? Having the power to write and relay information allows you to have a voice for an area that doesn’t.

Journalism is providing information in an unbiased way to therefore allow citizens to make an informed opinion. Now, this is the black and white area. There is a lot of gray area that strays from the straight line. Yes, journalism is about conveying honest information without taking sides. But it comes in many forms. Telling a story, writing in a journal, speaking in front of an audience. These are ordinary examples that can demonstrate what we convey journalism to be. Journalism  comes in all shapes and sizes. As long as it is unbiased and the loyalty is to the citizens, put a label on it and call it Journalism.