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.
But to what end? We say, idealistically, that journalism is a check against power and corruption. And this is true. But I wonder if that is what journalists are really “for,” or if that is just a positive consequence of something else. If journalism is only for these noble goals, then what is the purpose of journalism that doesn’t check power and expose corruption? The journalistic process still applies, but stories about new businesses, cultural events, even real estate can help a community talk to itself. Whether the community is defined by geography or interest, members of human tribes must communicate to have internal cohesion and to coexist with other tribes. “Social media” is the latest buzzword, but media has always been social. To be a journalist is to collect, filter, and distribute information that serves as social glue for a community.
David Cohn is founding editor of Circa, a startup that is creating “the first born-on-mobile news experience.”
Journalism is much more a thing that someone does, than journalist is a thing that someone is. All kinds of people can practice journalism, the way all kinds of people can write novels or build decks. And like those practices (novel writing, deck carpentry), there is a wide range of quality in how people practice journalism. The best journalism is truthful, compelling, furthers our understanding of our world, gives citizens the tools they need to self govern, challenges us to think more clearly and rigorously about the assumptions that guide our understanding of society, and functions to hold people in power to account.
Chris Hayes is editor at large of The Nation and host of Up w/Chris Hayes on MSNBC.
As a young person, I asked a lot of questions that were followed by my opinions about those questions. My mother nurtured both the asking and the opining by encouraging me to write everything down, which later evolved into my capturing stories with a camera. By the time I got to junior high school, journalism was an obvious fit. But as much as I tried to tell stories as they were, I saw everything through the eyes of an African-American female. Is that journalism?