If you are reading this sentence right now, you are the consumer of print or, perhaps,electronic media. That’s easy enough.
As humans living in a media-rich environment, we are consistently and constantly bombarded with updates on current events, opinionated commentary, and even the tabloid trash that an old teacher of mine called “brain candy.”Thismedia is filtered into our minds, we deem it relevant or irrelevant, and somehow, this process assists us in formulating our own viewpoints and opinions on matters.
Knowing this, we can choose to be passive, or active, consumers.
This is where the role of the journalist comes into play. Journalism is the art by which writers put pen to paper to write factual accounts for distribution via some medium to a greater population. A mouthful, sure, but remember that journalists are the individuals whose writings helpconsumersto become cultured and learned human beings. Put simply, news cannot be propagated without the role of journalists.
But who is a journalist? Is the title limited to those who speak only the most honest and neutral words? Should biased news outlets like Fox and MSNBC call their “news” segments commentaries rather than reports?
And that catapults me into my titular question: what is good journalism?
In my opinion, Sean Hannitys and Rachel Maddows, of FOX and MSNBC, respectively, give their own commentary on current events. However, they are not my journalistic role models, nor do I personally think news reporters should strive to mimic their styles.
Hannity and Maddow are clearly biased and partial to two opposite ends of the political spectrum and thus give two completely different views on topics. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is not a journalist’s role to sway public opinion.Rather,they should provide the truth and nothing but the truth. However, in today’s polarized society, it is increasingly hard to do so.
Readers hold journalists to the highest standards of integrity. Journalists are entrusted to wield the pens of truth and follow a code of ethics that includes impartiality, objectivity, and accuracy. Journalists must be held accountable for their own writings and their own opinions because of the incredible impact their compositions make on society. Fairness to all facets of the story is key.
This brings me to my next point: every journalist is entitled to some degree of journalistic freedom. It’s difficult to discern where to draw the line. Improper evidences or flawed fact-checking is deceiving to readers and destroys one’s credibility.
This is where the importance of being an active consumer comes into play; having the ability to distinguish between a news report and opinionated commentaryis a skill absolutely necessary in being able to dynamically study and interpret media.
As a first year writer for The Catalyst, I recognize that I still have a considerable amount to learn in the field of journalism. Each story I write presents me with the dilemma of separating myself from the story and reporting only what I have unearthed from my sources. I look forward to the coming years under the mentorship of some amazing writers at The Catalyst and at CC as a whole.