Editor’s note: The orientation and multimedia training program for the Summer 2015 class of Chips Quinn Scholars was held at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn., May 11-17. As part of their training, students blog about the conference and aspects of journalism.
Please share a question you have about the practice or field of journalism, and explain why this question, and its answer, is important to you.
Please provide correct titles for any people you may mention in your entry, following Associated Press editorial style.
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How do we effectively tell stories as technology and habits change at a rapid pace? This question is important to me because if journalists are unable to tell stories effectively and adapt to new technology, we will be able to have the impact that society needs. There will never be one answer to this question but we must constantly strive to understand it in order for our work to be impactful.
One question I have about journalism is how journalists will be compensated for their work in the future. In the past, newspaper ads created a lot of the revenue for news services but with less printed papers — and low prices for Internet ads — it seems the business model of the profession is at risk. This is an important question because, although we do not do this job to get rich, many people believe the news industry, and journalism as a whole, is in danger.
Cameron James Teague
My question is, why are professional journalists less respected now than they were in the past, and how can that change? From what I’ve seen, heard and read, while interning and working at my student newspaper, is that the younger generation does not trust journalists anymore. I think that is because, there are so many citizen journalists on social media that the definition of a journalist hasn’t yet evolved, I’m not sure how we change that, but I think it is a large concern in the profession.
The question I try to ask myself whenever I’m writing a story is, “Who cares?” If I can figure out what it is about a situation or an individual that makes it unique, that makes them someone or something that people want to know about or need to know about, that’s my angle and everything else will fall into place. It’s a question that stands across platforms and across storytelling mediums and one that helps ensure what I’m doing is important and relevant to my audience.
When is it important to separate your ethnicity from a story to remain impartial?
As minority journalists, we will often be asked, directly and indirectly, to represent our respective ethnicity and present our opinions, which will be grounded in our racial identities. This question is important because when we are asked to report on a story that affects our entire race, can we truly remain impartial as journalists?
A question I have as a journalist is where to draw the line between being an unbiased, fair journalist and being a voice for those experiencing unjust treatment or being a voice against those abusing their power. I don’t think there is a clear answer, but the question leads to a great discussion about the role of journalism in society. On a personal level, I believe it’s important to think about an answer to better understand my duties as a journalist.
One of the biggest questions that has loomed over my tenure as a journalism student is “What are the skills necessary to be a reporter in the 21st century.” As someone who is nearly finished with an education at a traditional journalism school that doesn’t delve too deep in multimedia reporting, I am always trying to figure out what skills I should be trying to pick up on my own in my spare time. The confusion, for me, is compounded by the amount of new apps and programming languages that emerge on a regular basis — Periscope, Java, Python, R, Google Fusion Tables, and more.
Briana Anyssa Sanchez
How should journalist decompress after reporting stressful and/or emotional stories?
I believe journalist need to figure out early on in their careers how to personally handle hard stories that could potentially take a long term emotional toll. Breaking news, war coverage, and some feature stories can often cause people to become so invested in their stories that they can be personally effected by them even if they have no personal connection other than being a journalist. This question and answer is important to me because I am an extremely invested and passionate about most everything I do and I am also emotional so I have had to learn how to detach at the end of the day.
My question about the practice of journalism is when and how to best draw the line of neutrality when reporting on something typically considered immoral or wrong. The most common example of this would be reporting on crime.
This is important for me to understand because while neutrality is key to credibility, it is often difficult to remain so when your personal views don’t agree with what is happening. After covering sexual assault and violence for nearly a year, I want my reporting to stay as neutral as possible while still engaging our audience and make them understand what is happening on our campus.
Should journalists be more concerned with staying in the good graces of our community or with reporting what we think matters most? I think that in telling more niche or personal-interest stories, journalists sometimes have to sacrifice wider audience readership. This can hurt in the course of establishing a base of loyal, consistent readers, and I wonder where the balance lies.
One question that I have about the field of journalism regards its standards on conflicts of interest. I understand that it’s important for a reporter to maintain personal distance from their story to avoid bias, however journalists are not robots. Journalists are people with lives, loved ones and political interests and I believe newsrooms ethics codes should have fewer restrictions and seek more compromises.
What measures can journalists take to ensure that regardless of technological advances their work remains ethical and honest?
This is an important question to consider because of all the tools available to journalists today that weren’t a major factor in the past. Many young journalists view new apps and tools as a great instrument for enhancing their work, but it is important to realize that with these new tools comes an added responsibility, which is to make sure that tools are not used to over-edit photos, videos and audio. It is almost natural to use a filter or brighten or darken a photograph and as reporters it is important to really consider how this can alter a narrative or even be dishonest.
When is advocacy acceptable in journalism (ex: a photographer capturing the gruesomeness of a DUI car crash, and defending his choice with a public need to deter drunk driving)? It depends on the situation, of course. It’s important given that journalism is more than relaying facts.
As a Journalism and American Studies double major at Cal State Fullerton, I would often hear about how “the media” perpetuates negative stereotypes in the community. We induce violence, report sensationally, and have liberal biases. With sensitive topics like race, gender equality and women’s rights in the upcoming election, people are turning away from traditional news outlets. Our students and community members are increasingly looking to mommy blogs and controversial TV personalities for their information. I wonder: how can we regain public trust? Accurate reporting is a given, but how can we reach a wider audience? The media landscape is constantly changing; I want to know how to navigate the waters in a way that best serves my community.
Why are journalists required to know how to do everything, but media outlets often only hire journalists who are specialized in one media skill? As a journalist entering the job market, I find it discouraging to see media outlets looking for video, data or beat journalists only. Should I focus on learning one qualification well or work on cultivating multiple skills to find a job?
Wilborn Nobles III
Given the advancements in digital communications, how can journalists continue to serve as gatekeepers of news amid a “digital fog” of information? Institutions and companies use multiple digital platforms to spread messages in their own interest — for example, the social media accounts used by the White House and the in-house reporters hired by sports organizations. It is vital for journalists to answer how they will maintain their role as public servants who provide accurate information.