Editor’s note: The orientation and multimedia training program for the Summer 2019 class of Chips Quinn Scholars was held at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville, Tenn., May 13-19. As part of their training, students blogged about the conference and aspects of journalism.
2019 Blog 1
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.
How can you remain objective while reporting on sensitive issues without discounting the subjective experience of your sources? It’s important not to lose touch with the human experience while tying them into larger narratives.
How can you write stories about people and communities in a way that is dignified? I heard a fellow Chips Quinn scholar say that there is a story in everyone and everything. This is true, but the question and its answer are important to me because I believe it’s critical to humanize the people we choose to write about, rather than reducing them to a single story.
We always say that we should go about business in an unbiased manner. In my capstone class at the University of Oklahoma, we talked about understanding where we come from to understand how to not be biased. At the same time, we are supposed to remain compassionate and, well, human. When something traumatic or devastating happens, and we speak to people who have gone through the worst thing imaginable — whether it be war, assault or something else — are we able to take personal actions other than reporting a truthful story to show the source we care? If so, what are they and where do we draw the line?
What place does opinion have in news reporting? To a nascent journalist, it often seems like we as reporters must be like ghosts, in a way. We are taught that a hallmark of good journalism is when we are able to separate ourselves completely from what we report. But is there a limit to our impartiality and, if so, how are we to express an opinion while maintaining objectivity?
Viewers sometimes believe every little detail that pops up in their news feeds without doing any research. How can journalists make our audiences more knowledgeable about gesture recognition and algorithms for voices to help them determine the authenticity of news?
I’m curious about how we can remain unbiased as we report our stories. A lot of news sources are known to swing politically left or right, and I want to be informed on how I can remain unbiased when reporting. I often feel like that is easier said than done, but it’s important that our audience see both sides to a story rather than one.
Digital journalist and media strategist Val Hoeppner described several new technologies that will make it difficult for journalists to obtain, interpret and communicate information to the public. As someone transitioning to journalism from engineering, where such technologies are being developed, I’m curious about the opportunities I should keep an eye out for at this intersection of media and technology. I’d like to know: How can I best use my skills to bridge the two worlds, and how do I design my own job description if such positions don’t already exist?
I am curious about how journalists learn to incorporate new technology in their work. Technology, and trends in its use, always changes, and I would like to know how journalists keep up with these changes while balancing their reporting work. This question is important to me because I know I will have to learn how to balance the technological changes with fundamental journalistic principles during my career.
How do we keep bias out of stories? Being an objective reporter is one of the pillars of journalism. I was brought onto the staff of the Clovis Roundup, in part, because a previous sports reporter was biased in his work. I was shown examples of how one’s bias can affect not only story coverage but the community as a whole. I want to stay in the middle ground in terms of reporting a story fairly. Learning how to avoid bias is important to me and to all journalists.
How is it that there are specific reporting jobs dedicated to producing social media content? I am leaning toward that type of work and would like to know how to get there, whether through cultivating certain qualities or learning how to refine ideas or angles to yield short, effective stories.
After listening to digital journalist and media strategist Val Hoeppner’s rousing talk on Tuesday, I’m wondering about Twitter engagement versus the amount of activity from reporters on Twitter. Hoeppner said that Twitter has only a 10% to 16% referral rate for many news outlets, but to me it’s where almost every reporter under the sun engages his or her audience around stories. Why do so many journalists invest in building their Twitter audience if Twitter isn’t giving them the most return on investment?
To what extent are journalists advocates? I want to report on issues that matter to me and my community, but where is the line between doing that and crossing into activism?
What are some coping mechanisms journalists can use when they feel their assignments are negatively affecting their mental health? We talked about how drinking from the fire hose of news is exhausting, yet we’re in a profession that requires us to report on hard things. I want to find a way that allows us to serve our audiences without pushing ourselves too far.
Females in the newsroom, especially those of color, are often underpaid when compared to other colleagues. As a Hispanic woman starting off at an entry level position, how do I ensure I am being treated equally? This is important because journalists of color are an asset and offer a variety of skills, including a new perspective regarding issues we personally experience and know too well.
Will journalism reach a pure state? Journalism consists of a bottom line, feeding our audience vast news coverage and struggling to keep jobs in the newsroom intact. But this is keeping quality content from being produced in the newsroom. Alleviating these pressures is important not only to journalists but also to our communities.
Before digital news, there was a lot stopping minorities and low income individuals from reading the news. Now, since news is online, it’s much easier to get, but that ease has come at a great cost to the industry. How do we make sure journalism continues to become more accessible to these demographics if the subscription-based model is the best way to keep the industry alive?
The importance of social media within the practice of journalism has increased substantially in the last decade. Has this trend impacted the ethics of journalists and media outlets that are active on social media and, if so, to what degree?
Why are some editors and patrons against the subscription model of delivering news? I have an idea of the answer to that question, but I’m always interested in hearing other thoughts and opinions, including an explanation of the pros and cons of such a model.
How can we best start to learn what is important to the communities we’ll be covering when we’ve never lived in or visited them? It’s important that we journalists don’t parachute into communities and write about them without understanding them or the needs of their residents.
Journalists often operate on a 24-hour digital news cycle and rely on social media connections to get our stories. How do we keep a work-life balance when there is an obligation to always be plugged in? I am young and eager and excited about my journalism career, so I am terrified of becoming a workaholic and burning out on what I am now so passionate about.
My question: Is there one thing you wish you could bring back about the practice of journalism? The field is growing and changing at an exponential rate, and some practices may not have gotten a fair chance to be incorporated into the field.
Can working journalists be strong social justice advocates at the same time? I understand the concept of conflict of interest, but at what point does advocacy become a conflict of interest for journalists? In journalism ethics, you should not report on a cause that you are publicly advocating for, but can you be vocal about causes that may not fall under your reporting beat? This is important to me because I am trying to navigate between being a respectable journalist while also fighting for important causes.
How can reporters best prepare for the future of journalism in the digital age? This question is important because it challenges journalists’ material that is often attributed to internet sources. Digital journalist and multimedia instructor Val Hoeppner offered some ways journalists can educate themselves, including by reading Amy Webb’s “The Signals are Talking,” and the “2019 Trend Report for Journalism, Media, and Technology,” published by the Future Today Institute.
Why don’t more internships in the U.S. allow for training in more than one area of media? American Public Media in Minnesota launched an internship that rotates among tasks such as writing news, shooting photographs and video, and producing. More outlets should give interns a chance to gain experience in these areas and help them figure out where they see themselves best in news production. This experience not only would enable emerging journalists to narrow their focus but also would provide support and networking opportunities within multiple areas of media.
As social media networks continue to be an increasingly important component in sharing journalistic work, I’d like to know: How do we get ahead of the curve and become an active player in the future of technology? As a journalism student, I’ve watched myself and the field of journalism continually adapt to new updates, platforms and applications. I’m concerned that if we don’t find a way to work with social media networks, we’ll continually work in spite of them.
As a journalist in the digital age, I’d like to know what the best way is to start using social media for my professional career. I haven’t regularly used social media in general for several years, but I recognize how important having a popular Twitter feed or Instagram page can be for gaining a following.
Digital journalist and media strategist Val Hoeppner mentioned that nonprofit newsrooms are the most sustainable of the news publishing models. While I would love to believe that this is true, what evidence, if any, exists to prove this claim? The answer to this question matters to me because I will be working in a nonprofit newsroom this summer, and because I hope to work in one in the future – if the model is sustainable.