Journalism is for the people. It is community-centric yet global in perspective. It is to inform and enlighten; to expand the dialogue; to probe and provoke; to stimulate and engage; to show the way or present another way; to open the doors and to uncover wrong; to give the voiceless a megaphone.
Brenda Butler is executive director of Columbia Links, a high-school journalism, news literacy, and leadership program in Chicago for at-risk teens.
On a complicated, fast-forward planet enveloped in information, journalists who thrive will be those who offer news consumers the same sense of trust that a skilled mountain guide provides to climbers after an avalanche. A sure trail cannot be guaranteed, but an honest effort can. Cronkite’s “That’s the way it is” no longer applies. Authority will derive less from an established media brand than through the constant scrutiny of the crowd. Effectiveness and impact may still come sometimes through a competitive scoop, but more often through collaborative networks in which insights flow in many directions.
Andrew Revkin is a science and environmental journalist who writes the Dot Earth blog for The New York Times’ op-ed page.
Remember the days when we relied on the newsboy to give us the latest happenings in town by tossing a tightly rolled bundle of newsprint on our doorstep? I don’t. The newsboy has long since traded in his bike for a mobile device. People today share news updates through social media, forwarding information from a news source or from a friend. News outlets have gone from being the sole providers of content to asking citizens to contribute information that journalists will process and forward back out. Now that anyone can provide “news,” people assume that everyone can play the role of the journalist. But it’s not that easy. In fact, the bombardment of information reinforces the idea that we need journalists now more than ever.
The Internet has made it possible to access news and information quickly, but it also has made it easy to disseminate inaccurate or misleading information. It is more crucial than ever that we be able to distinguish fact from fiction.
That’s where the journalist comes in—and where it becomes clear why the term “journalist” should not be used loosely. News outlets are supposed to provide the “final word,” the most accurate, up-to-date information. This implies that consumers should be able to trust the information they get from journalists. Too often, though, these outlets, in an effort to break news and be the first to report something, sacrifice accuracy in the service of speed. Mistakes, they seem to think, can be corrected later if necessary. Who is there to trust for that “final word” if the news industry plays this speed game? If journalists want to maintain—or regain—the respect and trust of the public, they need to deal with this dilemma.
Michelle Chavez is an incoming freshman at the University of Maryland, majoring in broadcast journalism.
The same as it ever was. Journalism informs and educates an audience. It adds context and perspective to issues that can be difficult to grasp. It is a tool, a platform, and a forum for truth (and accuracy). It can be practiced in a multilayered professional newsroom or tweeted from the privacy of one’s bedroom. It helps to have an editor. It helps a lot. The best kind of journalism is rooted in research and reporting. It blooms with clear, colorful language. The same as it ever was.
Clark Bell is director of the journalism program at the McCormick Foundation.
Journalists consistently ask probing questions about what is happening and why, and continually seek more places to look and viewpoints to explore. The public relies on them for the information required to make knowledgeable decisions and be effective citizen participants. Within a democracy we disagree, but we negotiate those disagreements together. There will be successes and failures, but we can acknowledge both, knowing that we have ongoing information and, with that information, the ability to renegotiate and try again. We have the freedom to direct and redirect our course. The freedom of journalism is the measure of a people’s freedom. Without journalism’s contributions, we cannot judge and act responsibly as we work together.
Bonnie Warne teaches English at South Fremont High School in St. Anthony, ID.
I often say that journalism is a process, not a product. That process is to collect, filter, and distribute information. In a world where more information is produced in a day than anyone could consume in a lifetime, value has shifted from unearthing information to verifying, curating, contextualizing, interpreting, and manipulating it.