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The Principles of Journalism

Thinking about the profession of journalism, as well as the citizens to whom journalists write for.
Lecture-cum-discussion on The Elements of Journalism (Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel)
Sources: Kovach and Rosensitel; www.journalism.org/resources/principles

Background
There seems to be public distrust to journalism (reference: United States) So a group called the Committee of Concerned Journalists (convened by the Project for Excellence in Journalism) began a national conversation among citizens and journalists to review the profession and identify clearly the principles that journalism should stand for.
Held were more than 20 public forums across the US, a reading of journalism history, a national survey of journalists Outcome: The Elements of Journalism

What is Journalism For?


The primary purpose of journalism is to provide people with the information they need to be free and self-governing Thus, this purpose associated to journalism is defined by the function that news plays in the lives of people
News media help define our communities as well as help us create a common language and common knowledge rooted in our reality. Journalism also helps identify a communitys goals, heroes, and villainsas well as reflects a communitys understanding of how citizens behave Pushing people beyond complacency

Note: The Awareness Instinctthat people have that desire to know whats happening, so journalists must provide that need by the curious public for information

An Interlocking Public
There is an interactive relationship between the journalist and the citizen; even if this relationship changes or evolves, this relationship does not disappear The job of the news media, in this respect, is to give this more complex and dynamic public what it needs to sort out the truth for itself over time. The role of journalism is to help facilitate the understanding of events as a means to help enhance democratic freedom.

Principle 1: Journalisms first obligation is to the truth


Democracy depends on citizens having reliable, accurate facts that were put in a meaningful context. Truth seeking is the primary mission of journalism so that people find that truth useful and reliable in their daily lives Truth is to be pursued in a practical sense, so journalists develop procedures and processes to arrive at a practical or functional form of truthtruths that we can operate on a day-to-day basis What about accuracy, fairness, balance? They still matter, but these are practical means, not abstract ends, to present a truth. People still have their own biases (e.g. bias against a city mayor), but journalists should pursue methods that are accurate, fair, and strike at getting all sides of the story

Principle 1: Journalisms first obligation is to the truth


Thus, journalists pursue the search for a journalistic truth that begins with the professional discipline of assembling and verifying facts. Then journalists try to convey a fair and reliable account of their meaningvalid for now, subject to further investigation.
Providing context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debateeven if many people are talking online and offline, and information is overwhelmingly abundant

Journalists should also be transparent to the public in how did they get their stories so that audiences can make their own assessment of the information presented to them. Citizens have more need for identifiable sources dedicated to verifying that information and putting it in context

Principle 2: Journalisms first loyalty is to citizens


Journalism / news media serves many publics (including advertisers and shareholders that provide resources to the news organization). But to report without fear or favor, the allegiance must be to citizens and the larger public interest.
This commitment leads to credibilitythat the news coverage is not slanted to friends or advertisers, and helps build loyal audiences Economic success then follows if theres credibility

The balancing act: working for the public interest and for a newspaper that strives to earn private profits Commitment to citizens also means journalism should paint a representative picture of all constituents in a society. Ignoring some of them has an effect of disenfranchising these citizens (e.g. poor who cannot buy a newspaper, low-class municipalities)

Principle 2: Journalisms first loyalty is to citizens


Pieces of advice
The owner must be committed to citizens first (tough challenge) Hiring business managers who also put citizens first (tough too) Set and communicate clear standards (i.e. having codes of conduct that reveal the relationships between the news media and advertisers) Journalists have a final say over the news Communicate clear standards to the public (telling the public how news organizations operate, e.g. Bill of Rights by Viewers

Challenge: Public distrust over the news (e.g. sensationalism). So to reconnect people with the news, and through the news to the larger world, journalism must be loyal to the truth and to citizens (including conveying to citizens the news methods done)

Principle 3: The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification


The science of verificationusing accuracy, fairness and balance as techniques to develop and verify news. These are not the goals of journalism, but they are there to help us get closer to the truth by conducting more thorough verification and depicting a reliable version of the events The science of reporting
Never add anything that was not there Never deceive the audience Be as transparent as possible to audiences about your methods and motives Rely on your own original reporting Exercise humility about your own skills (being open-minded of how people can change the entire meaning of your story, or tell that theres no story)

Principle 3: The essence of journalism is a discipline of verification


Techniques of verification
Edit with skepticism (editing the story line by line, statement by statement) Keep an accuracy checklist (see page 105) Assume nothing (dont rely on officials or news accounts. Get as close as you can to primary sources. Be systematic. Corroborate) Be careful with anonymous sources (Guide questions: How much direct knowledge does the anonymous source have over the event? What, if any, motive might the source have for misleading us, or hiding important facts that might alter our impression of the information?)

The discipline of verification is what separates journlaism from other modes of communication (propaganda, fiction, entertainment)

Principle 4: Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover


Independence is a cornerstone of journalistic credibility. Independence of spirit and mind, rather than nneutrality, is the principle journalists must keep in focus Maintaining distance from faction. You cover them, but you report not to win their loyalty The source of journalists credibility is still their accuracy, intellectual fairness and ability to informnot their deovition to a certain group or outcome Journalism of affirmationsomebody else offers a truth/opinion; is not about reporting the news, but making sense of the news

Principle 5: Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power


Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as a watchdog over those whose power and position most affect citizens. As journalists, we have an obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for commercial gain. Watchdog role is many times misunderstood. But the role means that journalists watch over the powerful few in society on behalf of the many to guard against tyranny. It also means that the press should recognize where powerful institutions are working effectively, as well as where they are not.

Principle 5: Journalists must serve as an independent monitor of power


Rise of investigative reportingor the uncovering and documenting of activities previously unknown to the public Rise of interpretative reportingdevelops a story as a result of a careful thought and analysis of an idea as well as a dogged pursuit of facts to bring together information in a new, more complete context that provides deeper public understanding. Reporting on investigationsReporting develops from the discovery or leak of information from an official investigation already underway on in preparation by others On the watchdog role of journalism: It requires special skills, a special temperament, a serious commitment of resources, a desire to cover serious concerns, and a press independent of any interest except that of the ultimate consumer of the news.

Principle 6: Journalists must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
The news media are the common carriers of public discussion, and this responsibility forms a basis for our special privileges. This discussion serves society best when it is informed by facts rather than prejudice and supposition. Role of the public forum: To illuminate about the issues, not to agitate a few. The news media should also strive to fairly represent the varied viewpoints and interests in society, and to place them in context rather than highlight only the conflicting fringes of debate. As framers of the public discussion, we not neglect the points of common ground where problem solving occurs. The role of the Internet in facilitating a public discussion; citizens are increasingly becoming involved in the news through commentary.

Principle 7: Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant


Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. It should do more than gather an audience or catalogue the important. For its own survival, it must balance what readers know they want with what they cannot anticipate but need. Criticisms against infotainment; the usual way of presenting news
Character is missingsources become templates, not real people Time is frozen so that everything happened yesterday or this evening Information is designed for a single audience, not multiple ones News is presented as a conversation of insiders Stories dont illuminate a greater meaning Little attempt to globalize the local and localize the global Storytelling is predictable and formulaic Internet is used as a new place for old material rather as a distinct technology

Principle 7: Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant


New questions to ask in news reporting (directed at the citizen): a) whats this story really about? b) Who is the audience for the story and what information do these people need to know to make up their minds about the subject? c) Who has the information? d) What is the best way to tell this story.? A new definition of the 5 Ws and H: Who is the character, what becomes the plot, where becomes the scene or setting, why becomes motivation or cause, and how becomes narrative. In doing such an approach, information and storytelling can blend. Though, this requires more reporting and curiosity on the part of the reporter.

Principle 7: Journalists must make the significant interesting and relevant


Doing other means for reporting particular stories
A profile An explanatory piece Issues and trend stories Investigative reporting Narrative (story with a character, scenes, and tension) Descriptive day in the life (focuses on a particular moment) Voices or perspective story Visual story (photos, illustrations, graphics as stories) Hour-glass technique Question and answer articles Fly on the wall (letting subjects tell their stories) Using the Internet (videos, audio of interviews, chats, slideshows, graphics)

Principle 8: Journalists should keep the news comprehensive and in proportion


Keeping news in proportion and not leaving important things out are also cornerstones of truthfulness. Journalism is a form of cartography (map making): it creates a map for citizens to navigate society. This map should include news of all our communities, not just those with attractive demographics. News that inflate events for sensation, neglecting other people in communities, that do stereotyping or making news disproportionately negative all make a less reliable map. The map is only an analogy: proportion and comprehensiveness are subjective, yet their elusiveness does not lessen their significance. Asking citizens (not as news medias customers) about their lives what are they doing, what are their communities doing.

Principle 9: Journalists have an obligation to exercise their personal conscience


Every journalist must have a personal sense of ethics and responsibilitya moral compass. They have a personal responsibility to voice their personal conscience out loud and let other around them to do so as well. Journalists should also be willing to voice differences with colleagues. News organizations do well to nurture this independence by encouraging individuals to speak their minds, in order to stimulate intellectual diversity (this being the real goal) to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society.

Principle 10: Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news
On principle 1 (truthfulness) and 3 (verification): Citizens have the right to expect that the verification efforts to get the news be made transparent. The citizen has an obligation also to approach the news with an open mind. On principle 2 (loyalty to citizens): Stories should answer our needs as citizens and not just the interests of player and the political or economic system On principle 4 (independence): Citizens have the right to expect that commentators, columnists and journalists of opinion are serving the interests of citizens debate rather than the narrow interests of a faction. Citizens also have the right to demand that opinion writers pieces have examined others ideas.

Principle 10: Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news
On principle 5 (monitor of power): Citizens have the right to expect monitoring on the most important and difficult centers of power (not just government, but others as well). Citizens also expect the use of investigative reporting to uncover things that are important and new and that change community paradigms. On principle 6 (public forum) and 10 (personal conscience): Citizens expect news providers to create several channels through which citizens can interact with the news media.

Principle 10: Citizens, too, have rights and responsibilities when it comes to the news
On principle 7 (proportionality and engagement):Citizens have a right to expect journalists to provide us with the need for timely and deep knowledge of important issues and trends in our community. We expect journalists to use their unique access to information to put the material they gather in a context that will engage our attention and see trends and events in proportion to their true significance in our lives.

THE FINALS
3JRN3: Divide into groups with 15 members (with one group with 14 members) / 3JRN4: Groups with 13 members (with one group with 12 members) Each group will draw lots of the locale that their groups will produce reports on: Manila, Quezon City, and UST. Once they have drawn their locale for their reporting, groups will conduct a journalistic market research to know the lives of citizens in these areas, and to identify what information is relevant to their lives. They will do this exercise for one week. Once the market research is done, then groups will design a news blog targeting people from Manila/Quezon City/UST, and design an online news publication about the people in Manila/Quezon City/UST.

THE FINALS
Each group will have its own roster of editors and reporters, as well as web/blog design staff and photographers/illustrators For their news blog, each group must present a framework for their news stories and must explain the information and news/features they provide All staff members must write one story apiece (400-1000 words per story). The editorial board will then package the stories into a news blog. The packaging of the stories must try to abide by principle 7to make the significant stories interesting and relevant (see next slide) On October 16, the news blog must be online. Student groups will also submit the following: a) all hard copies of the articles written; b) a 2-3 page written report about their community market research; and c) printout of the news blog.

THE FINALS
Articles that your news blog must have
News reports from the community A profile An explanatory piece Issues and trend stories Narrative (story with a character, scenes, and tension) Descriptive day in the life (focuses on a particular moment) Voices or perspective story Visual story (photos, illustrations, graphics as stories) Hour-glass technique stories / Wall Street Journal-type features Question and answer articles Fly on the wall (letting subjects tell their stories) Videos, audio of interviews, chats, slideshows, interactive graphics, Facebook/Twitter links/Links to other sources mentioned in story